For many people, books like Leviticus and Numbers seem tedious and unnecessary. They ask “Why do I, a 21st-century Christian, need to know anything about ceremonial uncleanness or the results of Moses’ census?” However, we ought to remember that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable…” (2 Tim 3:16) Actually, a short glance through the introduction to Paul’s letter to Timothy will show us a very helpful way of studying the various “boring” books of the Old Testament (or any book of the Bible, for that matter!):
- (v. 3) Be open to God’s showing you something new — but more importantly, don’t forget to listen when He’s re-showing you something old.
- (v.4a) God doesn’t expect you to come up with fancy symbolic meanings for obscure passages (ex. typifying every article of the tabernacle). Though these can be interesting and helpful at times, they often distract from the main purpose of reading God’s Word.
- (v.4b) Hear what God has to say on the various topics in His word — realizing that no matter what you believe or have been told about what’s right and what’s wrong, God’s opinion is always correct. That is to say, reconcile your convictions to God’s Word — not the other way around.
- (v.5) So, what is the main purpose of reading God’s Word, anyway — and once again, why did God include all of those passages about skin diseases and animal sacrifices? Well, as Paul puts it, every passage we read is to produce “love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” Therefore, hidden within each one of those “uninteresting” OT passages, God has a personal message to you. Paul even tells us what these little messages are about: “How you can love someone today”; “How you can start learning to have a pure heart today”; “How to keep a good conscience today”; and “How to live with sincere faith for the next 24 hours.” This sums up to: “What God wants you to live like right now.”
- (v.8-17) Here’s a [very loose!] paraphrase of Paul’s example of how he applied this method of Bible-reading: “So, I was just reading about all of these laws God made for people. There were laws for rebellious people, laws for kidnappers, laws for liars… I had read them so many times before that they seemed dry and overworn, at first. But, then, as I read on, I began to notice more and more laws that I, personally, had broken. ‘Goodness me!,’ I said to myself, ‘According to the law, God ought to have taken my life by now… I wonder why He hasn’t — and more than that, why does He allow a law-breaker like me to serve Him in the ministry?’ Of course, God answered my question right away: He wanted me to be an example to other people of how Christ can turn people’s lives around. And then, He reminded me that I need to live like He wants me to if I am to be a good example of His craftsmanship.” Paul didn’t actually say this, but you can bet that God then brought out some passage or phrase that brought to mind exactly how to live as a good example that day.
You see, God has a personal message to you within every passage of His word. Look for it, ask Him to reveal it to you, and when He does, listen to it and apply it to your life. That’s what God intended Bible study to be. Now, stop reading this article and go find out what God has to say to you!