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If you can recall, where is your Bible right now?
Is it somewhere in your bed from when you fell asleep during devotions last night?
Is it lying open on the kitchen counter, ready to be read each morning in your daily routine?
Is it chillin’ in your desk drawer, not even cracked open in the past month?
Do you have too many to count that you use all the time? Perhaps you don’t even have a Bible – that’s fine, too. Wherever your Scriptures are located, I just wanted to get your brain juices flowing.
Imagine living in today’s world without a Bible. Let’s say you could read very little, and the only parts of God’s Word you heard were from your pastors’ sermons and from asking them questions. Where is your church? Would you be willing to go there everyday, or many days, to hear more of God’s Word?
How exhausting! And besides, how inconvenient! We don’t want to be legalistic – God doesn’t require us to do religious things, the above included… right? I mean, without our own personal Bibles and books it would be hard to cultivate a relationship with God in our times!
All right, simmer down. Before we get too carried away, let’s remember that before Mr. Gutenburg in 1440 most people didn’t have their own Bible. Only the elders/pastors and high-up leaders did.
And in all reality, the things suggested above were all activities the ancient Israelites did to seek God’s Word. They didn’t mess around. When Moses was close to his death, he sang the people a song summarizing God’s love for Israel as well as the judgment that would await them for disobeying God, thus breaking the covenant they made with Him (the song is found in Deuteronomy 32). His song and the entire book of Deuteronomy reflect just how important the Law was for the Israelites. Looking at the text, Moses said something just after his song that paints a perfect picture for the reality of Scripture:
“…he said to them, ‘Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.’” Deuteronomy 32:46-47 (italics added).
No Bibles. No printing press. No e-readers. For the Israelites, going to the synagogue was their only way of hearing God’s Word, and it was life to them. While the Bible means life for us, too, it was an even more literal context for Israel since the Law governed their national and everyday affairs.
I wonder if we could exhibit the same discipline as them.
Have you ever thought of your Bible, the Word of God, literally as life? Would you today go to those same lengths to receive Scripture the Israelites did in their day? Asking myself this question leaves me with conviction, as my thoughts answer probably not. Not in a society that worships convenience and efficiency.
Some may point out that the Israelites messed up a lot, possibly for the lack of personal access to Scripture. While reading the Old Testament does reveal the Israelites made quite a few mistakes, I can’t help but see that we still mess up today, everyday. Our sin separated us from God, too.
What’s sad is that we, unlike them, have our own Bibles. We have the words of life in our personal possession. How often we take that for granted.
Think of what your first meal feels like in your head each day. After you wake up, you are hungry (or become hungry later). The thought of that first bowl of cereal, that first bite of fruit, that first sandwich (for the later crowds), sounds so delicious. We cherish that meal as it will give us fuel to carry on for the rest of the day. Why don’t we think of Scripture this way? In the same manner, why don’t we wake up hungering Scripture for daily guidance? This is exactly what Jesus was getting at when he told Satan man does not live on bread alone in Matthew 4:4. This is what God was getting at when He told Joshua to carefully study His Word day and night (Joshua 1:8).
Speaking of breakfast, here’s a delectable thought: Food isn’t going to do our lives much good if our souls don’t even know what to live for each day. But if simply prioritizing Scripture is the problem, where do we begin?
Like so many other issues and sins we deal with in life, our perception of Scripture comes down to our hearts. I’m willing to bet that if God’s Word is important to Him, and if God is important to us, then His Word will be important to us, too. In other words, if you’re having a hard time really digging into Scripture, my guess is that God isn’t at the center of your heart. Interestingly enough, one of the powers of the Bible is to change the human heart (Hebrews 4:12). When Satan shows up to try to get us off track, the Bible is also great for fending him off, as exemplified by Jesus.
So Scripture presents us with the Gospel, fights off the devil, and changes our hearts? What a common denominator! Now I don’t mean to end this post abruptly, but I do hope your seeing the pattern here – the importance of words.
God’s words, that is.