Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Know God, Part One: Reading vs. READING

With all the chatter that's been buzzing around after the misguided prediction of Mr. Harold Camping, I have been bubbling up like a shaken soda bottle, ready to explode, wanting so desperately for the world to just see God for who he is and acknowledge the fulfillment of ancient prophecies which have and are currently being fulfilled, as well as those that are still to come.

This blog has been a wonderful outlet for me, allowing me to process the things that God has taught me and revealed to me in my private study time and in the many teachings I hear at church or online. I have no idea how many people read the things I write, or if certain posts ever get read at all, but if even one person sees something here that changes the way they connect with God or their ability to be a witness for Christ, then I am confident that it was time well spent. In a digital world filled predominantly with garbage, I feel a sense of responsibility to contribute content that will glorify God and point more people to Him. And in that desire, I end up with hundreds of thoughts, ideas, scripture references, political happenings, world events, sermons, quotes, and any number of other data and facts running though my head, not knowing which one to write about first, and leaving me asking the world, asking the Jewish people, asking Christians, "Don't you see it? Don't you know what your own Bible says? Don't you understand that these things that are occurring were prophesied thousands of years ago, (pointing to my Bible) here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here..."

For the moment, though, I will try to reign it in, and I will just talk a little bit, not about the specific prophecies, but simply about the need to STUDY prophecy and to study the WHOLE counsel of God. As I have said before, these posts are written with a Christian audience in mind, meant to disciple and grow those who are already saved, so that they can then go out and be confident, more effective servants for the kingdom. While I certainly hope that non-believers may find their way here and see something that turns a light on for them in the question of faith and God, evangelism is not the predominant purpose of this blog. Nor is it attempting to redirect the hearts and minds of the lost concerning God, and at the moment, Israel. Sadly, I know that the world's denial of God and blatant ignorance to truth is, in itself, a fulfillment of prophecy. And, while I am not surprised by the world's reaction to Israel and to God himself, I am saddened by the souls that will be lost, and I ache for my God, who is hated, when he deserves nothing less than unrestricted love, adoration, and praise.

That being said, what is the responsibility of the believer concerning Bible study? Not even concerning prophecy, necessarily. For the moment, the question is just that. What does God require of us? What does he expect of us when it comes to studying our Bibles? Why did he choose to include each and every verse that he did? Can we really learn something from EVERY single verse in the Bible? Is EVERY single verse worthy of in-depth study? Or can we just study the ones that make sense, the ones that seem relevant to life today?

And what exactly IS "in-depth" study?

My husband is an electrical engineer. And try as I might to understand the words coming out of his mouth when he talks about work, I'm sure that my eyes glaze over after about the third sentence each and every time. Now what if I attempted to read one of his engineering text books the way that most Christians study their Bibles?

There seems to be this "fad", if you will, about reading through the bible from cover to cover. You can find hundreds of study aids that help you read through the entire bible in a year. And don't get me wrong. I think that is a wonderful task to take on. But if all you ever do is "read" through the bible the way I could "read" an engineering text book, then you have no more read and understood the word of God than I have the workings of engineering. Those text books are full of mathematical symbols, terminology, and references that hold absolutely no value to the average person who is untrained in how to interpret them. The Bible is no different. It is FULL of information that goes infinitely deeper than a quick surface-reading can rend, particularly in the english translation. Without studying the original Greek and Hebrew, without understanding the cultural references of the times, without an understanding of how to connect the dots between a verse in Isaiah and a verse in Matthew, the average reader is left with a very shallow view of who God is and how truly magnificent his written word is. Even if you have truly studied PARTS of the Bible, the parts you like, or the parts that seem relevant to you at the moment; even if you have read and re-read certain portions of scripture over and over again, maybe even certain verses hundreds of times... until you have given EVERY verse, and I mean every verse, this kind of devotion, study, and prayer, you have not fully met your creator.

Here is one incredible example: How many times have you been reading through your Bible and gotten to a genealogy list, sighed, skimmed over it, and moved on? I'm afraid to ask, but how many times has your pastor done that on a Sunday morning? Of all the parts in the Bible that seem mundane, this has to be the worst. Seriously, God, what on earth can I possibly learn from a genealogy report? Surely you don't really expect me to read this? And if any part of the Bible seems like an "acceptable" portion to skip, this would surely be it. But if you did, you would miss something as amazing as this:

Genesis 5 begins, "This is the written account of Adam's line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them 'man.' When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth..."

The genealogy continues, listing the lives and deaths of the descendants of Adam as follows: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah.

These names probably mean nothing to you aside from the fact that it is another branch in the family tree. But if you look closer, if you study the root words and meanings of each of these names, you discover that:

Adam means "man".
Seth means "appointed"
Enosh means "mortal, frail, or miserable," and comes from the root word anash, which can refer to an incurable wound, grief, or sickness.
Kenan can mean "sorrow, dirge, or elegy."
Mahalalel comes from the name Mahalal, meaning "blessed or priase"; with the El at the end, which is the name of God, the name means "Blessed God"
Jared comes from the verb yaradh, meaning "shall come down"
Enoch means "teaching or commencement"
Methuselah comes from the root words muth, meaning "death" and shalach, which means to bring or to send forth, giving his name the meaning, "his death shall bring."
Lamech means "despairing."
Noah means "to bring relief or comfort."

Condensed, these names, which were given to children over the course of many hundreds of years (due to extremely long lifespans) and written about long before the birth of Christ, read as follows:

Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.

And what's the benefit of knowing this? Just as all the glory of creation and the power of God's word points to Him and allows us to see into His heart and marvel at his magnificence, so this incredible evidence of the hand of God, reaching down into our world thousands of years before he would send his son to deliver a message of hope and salvation, should make us fall to the ground and worship him.

He is right here and he wants us to KNOW him. He wants us to ask question after question and truly study his word, not just some of his word, ALL of his word. He wants us to see just how ridiculously detail-oriented he is and how he has thought of everything, so that we might marvel at him all the more and so that we might know that the same amount of thought and love that went into creating the inner workings of an atom went into creating you. And that the same hand that causes the sun to rise and set is the same hand that is holding you tightly. And NOTHING can separate you from him.

And the more we know that, the more intimately we know our creator, the more in awe we are of him, the more we will bubble over like that exploding soda can with his love and his truth, unable to contain this GOOD NEWS!

And THAT's why. That is why we must never settle for "enough." What more reason could you ever need?

You absolutely can and will learn SOMETHING simply by reading through Scripture. God can and will reveal himself through his word if you are sincerely seeking him. But we have to get to a point where we choose not to settle for "enough." We have to want to learn more, and more, and more. We have to be so hungry for the knowledge of who God is that we will settle for nothing less than ALL that He is so gracious to give us. Your God loves you and He already knows everything about you. But He wants you to know him. Give him the attention he deserves. Don't read your bible like my pathetic attempt at understanding engineering. He deserves better. The body of Christ deserves better. The world deserves better from us.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16

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