Saturday, October 04, 2008

Why go beyond bible reading?

by Laura Springer, M.Div., Th.M.

Why go beyond Bible reading? Because even the structure of the Old Testament tells us that mere reading is not enough. Allow me to explain.

The Old Testament, as arranged in the Christian Bible, is rather like a library (History Poetry, and Prophets), with the prophetic books arranged by size, largest to smallest. In the Jewish Bible, called the TaNaKh (having the same content as the Old Testament), the books are arranged to make a point: success in following God comes through meditating on God’s instructions.

The TaNaKh is arranged in three sections. The first is Torah, meaning “instruction,” the second is Nevi’im, meaning “prophets,” and the third is Ketuvim, meaning “writings.” So far, this may seem very similar. Ah, but wait; there is more. The first book of the Nevi’im is Joshua. Joshua 1:8 says,
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
God tells Joshua that his success in following God is directly tied to his meditating on God’s instructions. The first book of the Ketuvim is Psalms. Psalm 1:2-3 says
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
God says, through the psalmist, that success in following God is directly tied to meditating on God’s instructions.

Now, lest we think this is merely “Old Testament,” let us flip forward to James’ letter to the Dispersion, written around AD 49-50 and one of the first New Testament books written. James 1:25 says
the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
God says, through James, that Christians’ success in following God is directly tied to meditating on God’s instructions.

The message of Scripture is clear: success in following God is a direct result of chewing, ruminating, and digesting God’s Word. Start now. The reward is great and well worth the time and discipline.

“Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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