Does anyone else feel like Bible study gets a bad wrap these days? Like we can’t even say those words without people running for cover? I totally get that there is a concern that too much study OF the Word and not enough intimacy WITH the Word is a very real temptation. After all, we can know the Scriptures backwards and forwards and not really KNOW the Lord, meaning we don’t have an intimate relationship with Him. Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39-40:
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Ouch! But before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, we should look at 2 Timothy 2:15:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
Look at the King James version for extra effect.
Study to show thyself approved, a workman that needeth not be to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
A group of ladies and I are studying the life of Samuel and wow! At first glance, it seems as if the accounts are so far removed from us, that they may not even be worth reading. Ummmm…. Wrong. Last week, we ran out of time because our discussion was so rich. 1 Samuel 2 recounts the story of some wicked priests who were dishonoring the Lord in His place of worship Literally, we talked about how Phinehas and Hophni (don’t you just love Old Testament names?) stole animal fat from the sacrifices. Sounds like a real nail-biter, huh?
From this one passage, we talked about God’s mercy and justice, the seriousness of worship, the importance of disciplining our children, the danger in just going through the motions in serving the Lord, the great responsibility on our church leaders, how the Levitical priesthood points to Jesus, how we ourselves ARE His priests….. Do y’all see what I am saying?? This is just what I can remember off the top of my head. And now, a week later, I am still thinking about 1 Samuel 2 and trying (through the power of the Holy Spirit) to respond in obedience.
But we had to study to get there. I can’t speak on the ladies’ behalf, but I had to spend some time with my head in my Bible, asking, “Lord, what in the world does this mean?” I had to read slowly, looking at the cross references at times, flipping back to Leviticus of all places, breaking it down, using other study tools, and trying to get to the heart of the matter. Why did the Lord leave this for us in His Word? What is He revealing to us about Himself? What can we learn from a couple of corrupt priests stealing some fat?
It turns out, a whole lot… And I would have missed it if I hadn’t asked the Holy Spirit to teach me along with putting in the effort to study. At times it felt like work. At times I didn’t feel super “spiritual.” But I kept asking Him to teach me, to show me, to guide me, and He did. And I can’t even tell you how cool it was to meet with a group of women and hear how the Lord spoke to them as well.
The Bible is not just a book; it is the living Word of God. Literally, it is His Word to us. ALL of it (even Leviticus) is useful for us, so that we “may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16.) But if you are like me, you aren’t going to just pick up Leviticus and skim through it in your quiet time, immediately understanding what it means. It’s going to take some digging and studying to correctly handle the book of Leviticus. And yet the beauty and truth nestled in that book is so unbelievable, I could cry just thinking about it.
God has given us this amazing gift. Will we take the time to study it?