Enjoying the Bible
Since I started this series, I have been reflecting on the personal experiences that have brought me to where I am today. I am especially grateful to have grown up in a home where the Bible was greatly appreciated. I remember how my mother’s Bible was thoroughly highlighted to the extent that I knew she had spent many hours in it.
She had a Bible verse she could quote for most any issue in life. Also many of my aunts and uncles where engrossed in the Bible. One of my first jobs as a teenager was with one of her brothers who loved to talk about the Bible to anyone who would listen. It amazes me to this day when I come across certain Scriptures that my mother and my uncle would often quote to me. I can still hear their voices in my head!
Often when I would meet at my uncle’s house to ride to work with him, he would be running a bit late because he lost track of time while studying the Scriptures. He would then emerge from the house with a glow upon His face as if he had just had an audience with God Himself!
Many others in my life have inspired me in this way. Lately, however, it seems that the general view is that this kind of enthusiasm for God’s Word is mainly for preachers and teachers. In these lessons I hope to do my part in helping to change that perspective.
My uncle inspired me by his love for the Bible, but he also encouraged me by teaching me some of the basic themes in the Bible and how they weave together into one harmonious grand and glorious story of God’s eternal purpose for us all.
You see, it is one thing to tell a person what the Bible says on a certain subject. It is another to teach others on how to dig in and discover the truth for themselves! I am not saying that teachers are unnecessary, for why would I be teaching this today? I am saying that personal time in the Bible can make what we receive from a teacher even more powerful. Jesus compared the Word of God with the natural food we need to sustain our physical bodies. When faced with the temptations of the devil, He replied, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4).
Another writer referred to both the milk of the word, for baby Christians, and meat, or solid food for the more mature. (Hebrews 5:12-13).
A well-prepared meal will not only support your physical health, it can be very pleasurable as well. Likewise, time spent “digesting” the Word of God as found in the Scripture can also be very satisfying.
The teachings of the Lord are said to be “sweeter than honey” and like water from a fountain. With the proper understanding, we can agree with the apostle Paul, who exclaimed, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man!” (Romans 7:22). So the Word of God does for the inward, spiritual part of us, what our natural food does for our physical bodies!
Let me share with you a key to understanding the Bible which I have greatly appreciated:
“In the Old Testament, the New Testament is concealed. In the New Testament, the Old Testament is revealed,”
That is to say that Jesus Christ, His character, nature, love, compassion, and the salvation He brings to mankind, are all portrayed from Genesis to Malachi in promises, prophecies, epic stories, heroic characters, and even in laws and rituals. The entire Old Testament looks forward to Jesus and the coming Kingdom of God.
From Matthew to Revelation, the full plan of God begins to unfold before our very eyes. Mysteries begin to be revealed. The events of the Old Testament begin to make sense. The Kingdom of God comes into view. So then we say, “In the Old Testament, Christ is concealed, in the New Testament, He is revealed.”
In my opinion, it is a mistake to neglect the Old Testament on the grounds that the New Testament has the more complete and better picture. The sense of anticipation that is felt throughout that period is what builds up to the climax that we witness in the Four Gospels! The New cannot be fully appreciated without knowing what came before, and why Christ exploded on the scene in Judea when He did.
In an earlier lesson, we saw how God created the heavens and the earth, and then brought forth mankind as a reflection of Himself, to rule and reign in His stead. Already, from the very first chapter of the Bible we find what is known as a shadow and type of Jesus Christ, Who was the only man to truly fulfill this word.
Every human being that ever lived has fallen short of this holy calling to fully express the invisible God in a visible form. But of Jesus it is said in Colossians 1:15 that He is the “image of the invisible God,” and in Hebrews 1:3 that he is the “brightness of (God’s) glory, and the express image of His person.”
The great news is that human beings who have fallen short of this glory can now by His grace be ultimately conformed to the image of Christ, so that He would become the firstborn of this New Creation Race!
But don’t take my word for it. Find out about it in the Bible for yourself!