How do you read the Bible? Do you look for verses here and there or a small tidbit to help you understand your current life situation? Do you look for passages to justify a stance you have taken or an attitude you have displayed? A lot of us are guilty of doing this. We pick and choose verses that fit our idea of Christianity or our view of God as loving Father.
The Bible is the story of Jesus Christ, who came to earth as a little baby, ministered and taught for 33 years and died a brutal death on a cross for our redemption so that we may have eternal life with God. It is also a place where we can find help and hope for this life. Some have said, the Bible is God’s love letter to us. The Bible is no less than the inerrant, inspired Word of God.
Although we look to the Bible for help and hope, have you considered that the Bible isn’t really about you? It is about God!
The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself and His character— to us, His beloved, yet flawed, creation.
Recently, I have been studying the Old Testament books of Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, and other prophetic books with some dear sisters in Christ. The prophecies contained therein about the coming Messiah and the return of Christ at the end of time, are numerous. Evidence of the fulfillment of these prophecies can be found in the gospels and other books throughout the New Testament. It is extraordinary!
But the most amazing thing about studying the Old Testament is that as we study it, we become more aware of who God really is—His attributes and character. The Bible, more than just an instruction book for us—is God’s revelation to us about Himself! For instance, reading and meditating on the book of Genesis opens our eyes to the all-encompassing, unsurpassed power of God as Creator. God was—before the beginning of time. Nothing exists that He did not create. Every microscopic cell and life system was His ingenious idea. Every nanoparticle came from the mind and hand of God.
As we study the books of the exodus, wilderness journey and early history of the Israelites we see God as Provider, Protector, Deliverer—but also as the Righteous Judge, who allowed Israel’s enemies to overtake them time and time again to bring them to repentance when they just could not stay away from idolatry.
Or how about the story of Joseph in Genesis? He was thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold to traders and taken to Egypt, far away from his home. He later became one of the most powerful men in Egypt and was able to save his own family from starvation. Why? Because God is Sovereign! He has a plan and nothing can derail it.
In Exodus 20:3 God gives us the first of the Ten Commandments. “You shall have no other Gods before me.” Why does He say this? Because God is a Jealous God. He is jealous for our worship and adoration…and His jealousy is not sinful (as ours is), it is Holy and perfectly right.
There is a powerful picture of the nature of God in Isaiah 6. Isaiah was given a vision of God high and lifted up on a throne, surrounded by seraphim (multi-winged heavenly creatures). In light of the utter Holiness of God, Isaiah said, ” Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts”. Also, in this vision, Isaiah witnessed the seraphim crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” When Isaiah was confronted with God’s Holiness, he, by contrast, became acutely aware of his sinful state. God is Holy and Worthy to be praised, friends! And we are sinners, incapable of anything good, without Him.
The New Testament is a comfortable place to be and is a place where we can read about our precious Savior. The account of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, our only hope for eternal life, is there. We read about the disciples and apostles who continued Jesus’s mission here on earth helping the young church and Christianity to spread across the known world. It is truly the birth of the gospel. In the New Testament we find lots of wisdom and practical advice on how to live a life that is pleasing to God and impactful to others.
But my advice to you in this upcoming year is to spend some time studying the books of the Old Testament with an eye towards the attributes of God. What is He revealing to you about Himself? God is Holy, Righteous and Worthy of all our Praise and Worship. We sometimes forget that fact when we focus only on, ‘God is love‘ and ‘Jesus is my friend’. Our Holy, Omnipotent, Sovereign God is to be regarded with reverential fear and unparalleled awe.
As we live our lives in light of the profound Holiness of God and begin to regard Him with reverence and respect, we will have a renewed motivation to live a life that is pleasing to Him—one that brings Him the glory and honor He so rightly deserves.
“Holy, holy, holy!
Lord God Almighty,
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.
Holy, holy, holy!
Though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see.
Only thou art holy, there is none beside thee.
Perfect in power, in love and purity,”
Reginald Heber (1826)