Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you shall prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. –Deuteronomy 32:46-47.
God’s people are a Bible-focused people. Have you noticed that?
They love God’s Word, the Holy Bible. Most have multiple copies in various translations and they make a big deal of reading Scriptures daily, some for an hour or more. They commit large portions of it to memory, and love to quote its key insights when appropriate.
They do not do this out of a slavish, dull-spirited sense of obligation. As Moses told Israel, “Indeed, it is your life.”
Everything we know of Jesus Christ and God’s revelation from Heaven, for now and forever, comes from these pages.
What specifically do you love about God’s Word? Ask a hundred serious followers of Jesus and you may get a hundred answers. Here are my top ten reasons for loving the Word of God….
One. It’s so fascinating. It’s great history. Excellent stories. The Old Testament sagas of Joseph, of Moses, and of King David have furnished storylines for numerous novels and movies over the years. They are not fiction, however, but authentic, as real as this morning’s sunshine.
I keep making discoveries all the time. I’ll never forget stumbling across the OT’s minor characters of Mephibosheth, Barzillai, and Shimei–all with stories to tell. In the NT, I’m fascinated by the weeping woman at the Lord’s feet, the blind beggar of Jericho, and the resurrected Lazarus, sitting on his front porch in Bethany as exhibit A to the resurrection power of Christ, causing many to believe (John 12).
Two. It is so powerful. I read something like Psalm 84:11 and everything inside me stands on tip-toe. The Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. I can meditate on that for an hour, it’s so rich. The greatness of God, the glory of God, the generosity of God–I love it.
I read the self-revelation of God in Exodus 34:6-7 and find it amazing. And then, equally fascinating, I find the Old Testament’s heroes quoting that very word from God. Moses quoted it in Numbers 14:18. Nehemiah sang it in Neh. 9:17. The Psalmist quoted it in Psalms 86:15; 103:8; 108:4; and 145:8. Joel preached it in Joel 2:13. And Jonah complained to God about it in Jonah 4:2. Truly amazing.
Three. It has my name. I read a passage–whether Old or New Testament–and no longer see it as a window into an earlier time, but a mirror into my soul. “Wow,” I think, “How did He know that about me?”
After the Apostle Paul described the war going on inside believers–as the flesh and spirit duke it out–he said, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall set me free from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) He answers his own question: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
In Romans 8:26, Paul said, “We do not know how to pray as we should.” I read that and smile and think, “Thank you! I knew it, but am so relieved to know Paul felt the same way.”
Psalm 103:14 says “He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” Thank you, Psalmist! Thank you, Holy Spirit! You are telling us: The God who made us knows we are made of humble stuff. He knew He was getting no bargain when He saved us. When we sin, the only one surprised is us! I find this so liberating.
Four. It’s real and not concocted. Those who say man has tampered with these writings to make them conform to some council somewhere are so far off base it’s not funny. Had they tailored them to their taste and their doctrine, they surely would have removed some of the discrepancies about numbers (how many bad guys were slaughtered at this battle), cleared up some of the vagueness that still perplexes us (exactly how many days and nights was Jesus in the tomb; tell us how God counts these things), and straightened out the chronology for some of the events. But far from being contradictions or mistakes, they are evidence that we have the writings as written, just as they were handed down. Untampered with.
Five. It’s huge. I love that it’s 66 “books.” You can read it through in a year–some of us have done that numerous times–but it takes a real effort. It is worth spending one’s life studying.
I love that it all fits in one volume. That one book will be my guide for the rest of my life.
Six. It’s deep. You can spend a year on Ephesians or I Peter. Romans chapter 8 alone required three volumes for a British author/scholar’s comments. (But see Peter’s caution at point nine.)
Seven. It’s accessible. No one needs to understand Hebrew or Greek or have a seminary degree to appreciate their Bible. Even a child just beginning to read will find parts of Scripture on their level. My mother, in Heaven now since 2012, had a ninth grade education and read her Bible with joy and delight almost every day of her long life.
Eight. It’s amazingly consistent. The Messiah of the Lord Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament is exactly as prophesied throughout the Old. The OT’s laws and rituals were stunning representations of truth that would be seen in Jesus Christ and His life/death/burial/resurrection. If you’ve not seen a presentation of “Jesus in the Passover” from a Messianic believer or a depiction of “the types of Christ in the tabernacle,” you’ve missed a treat.
Nine. But it’s challenging. The Old Testament is different from the New. The Old was preparation for the New. We read the Old to learn and appreciate, but the New Testament is our guide, our manual, our instruction. The Old may have all kinds of rituals and regulations about what to eat and what to avoid, but the New tells us we are no longer to be keeping those. “Let no one judge you in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).
At the end of 2 Peter, we have a wonderful admission and a helpful caution: “…our beloved Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (3:15-16). Thank you, Peter! We appreciate your understanding!
Ten. It’s inexhaustible. I will never plumb its depths, never exhaust its supply of riches, never run out of discoveries. No wonder it says things like: “The judgements of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; in keeping them is great reward” (Psalm 19:9-11).
And just think–the Psalmist did not have the New Testament. Or even all of the Old, for that matter. And yet…
We say with Job, “I have esteemed the words of Thy mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). What is fascinating about that, is that earlier Job had lamented, “Oh, that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!” (19:23) We smile. They are, Job. We own a copy, and we are infinitely richer for having them.
Thank you, Lord, for Thy Holy Word. We are rich beyond words.