Monday, March 25, 2013

I’ve Never Read Leviticus...It’s Too Boring

If you’ve said these words or thought them, let’s talk. 

There’s no point in feeling guilted into bible reading. God doesn’t desire mere outward acts of devotion to try to make Him happy. He is already pleased with you because you are clothed in Christ. End of story. 

Now you have some freedom, a bit of wiggle room. The bible is different if approached, not as a chore, but as a hang out sesh with a friend or a family member. 

Here’s the deal, when you love someone, you try to get to know them and understand them. But the hard part of building that relationship is that their background is really different from yours, so you have to learn a bit about their background in order to really appreciate who they are and get to know them. And if you love them, it’s worth the effort. 

The Old Testament was written to a group of folks thousands of years ago. Their context was a lot different than yours. The ‘boring’ books of the bible are actually really interesting if you understand a bit more about what is going on. 

As you make your way through Leviticus or Numbers or 1 Chronicles, just remember three words: context, context, context! 

A helpful resource to make it through these books, especially if you never have, is the ESV Study Bible. It is a handy tool to help bring context to all those genealogies and laws. 

These books were first delivered to a culture orally, instead of in written form. And the whole community gathered together to hear the word read. This changes the entire mode of communication. When you’re writing a speech, it will be different than when you’re writing a paper for your college class. 

Remember school camps, when they called out all the schools present, all the kids would cheer when their school was called and you would wait until your school was called and then you’d cheer. 

What if that was all written down and you read it from page? It wouldn’t translate as well, would it. 

As you read through the genealogies, remember that. People were waiting to hear about how their ancestors played a roll in the story of God, they’d get really excited when they heard their grandpa’s name or their great-great-great-great-grandpa’s name. 

As for all the repetition in those books, remember that the scribes didn’t have italics or bold fonts to illustrate their point, the only way they could draw out an idea is by repeating it. 

These are just a couple of tips if you have tried, without success, to read through the bible, but have been discouraged by some of the literature. 

At the end of the day, the whole bible points to Jesus and teaches us about who He is and about who we are. The details about the animal sacrifices remind us that God is truly holy and that we really do need atonement. The instructions for the temple remind us of how magnificent God is and that now, we are the temples of the living God!

Like Paul told Timothy, “all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Paul wasn’t referring the the New Testament books, he was writing those at the time, he was referring to the Jewish Scriptures, our Old Testament.

At the end of the day, sometimes reading those hard-to-read books is an exercise in faith. Sometimes, we just need to trust God that He wrote these for us to know Him better, even if we don’t feel like we’re getting to know Him better while reading them. 

You might just be surprised when and where you see God as you make your way through the Bible!

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