Finding meaning in the not-so-interesting parts of Scripture
The Bible is a unique book full of history, poems, psalms, prophecy, and instructions. It holds letters, commandments, lists of names, building instructions, and family drama. It is an odd assortment. Some parts pique our interest, but reading through an ancient, translated text is not easy. We all have had moments where the list of names blurred in front of our eyes. We’ve questioned, “How does anyone read this? Why is this important or relevant to me? Why is reading the Bible so hard?” These are questions I have asked myself numerous times as my heart sinks when I look at chapters of unpronounceable words and incomprehensible instructions.
Sometimes scripture bores us, but through persistent study - and the Holy Spirit’s guidance and revelation - it also can surprise us. ALL of scripture is God-breathed and has a purpose. God gave us His Word and He gave it intentionally, knowing that His people would need different parts on different days. Different parts would resonate with different cultures and times. Discovering and knowing God gives purpose and interest to His Word, even in the most seemingly pointless passages.
One amazing example of this the genealogies! It isn’t anyone’s favorite part of the Bible to read unless you study the significance of genealogy in some cultures, and the importance of tracing Jesus’ humanity. This is what happened to Bible translator, Joanne Shetler. She worked to translate the Bible to a people group in the Philippians. Desperately wanting the people to understand the Gospel and know Christ, she was surprised when one of the people she had befriended took interest in the genealogy of all things! To him and his people, the genealogy of Christ demonstrated the humanity of Christ and verified the truth of the Gospel. How amazing that God placed these specific names to help people understand him!
God’s word can speak truth to you as well. Even if you find the Bible difficult to understand, persistence and the help of the Holy Spirit can reveal to us the truths that Scripture holds. As we read and study, our relationship with God grows deeper, and we begin to understand what the Bible says. Understanding eventually leads us to delight and enjoy our time with Him. Even as we drudge through the dimensions of the ark or the details of the temple, God is alive and active in His Word.
One way that we can begin to find delight in Scripture is by focusing on what God is doing in the passage we are reading. This simplifies and motivates us to search for meaning in the text. Not all scripture has hidden interpretations and we don’t need to search for meanings that are directly for us and our given situation. But God’s Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and when we look for the ways that God is working in the passage we learn more about Him. And, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can be aware of how His word is relevant to our lives today.
Bible study takes work! We may have to pull out the dictionary, concordance, and Greek lexicon, but that is a part of doing the work of knowing Christ! And when we put the work into our Bible study, we being to know God in ways that we hear about in testimonies and stories that we long to have in our own lives. Even the “boring” parts of Scripture have meaning. Not meaning in self-help kind of ways, but in God-glorifying ways that take our limited perspective of the world and open the view to the unexplainable awe of God.
This is a delight that comes through sacrificial obedience. The commitment to reading and studying God's word reaps love and understanding of God’s word because it is through this relationship that we begin to see more of God. And knowing God reaps delight and a hunger for more and more of Him!
- Take small passages of Scripture and dig deep into the meaning of words, and context.
- Meditate and reread scripture.
- Purchase a concordance or download an app to aid you in your studying.
- Read And the Word Came with Power, about missionary Joanne Shetler, and be encouraged by God’s living and active word.
|Erica Hunt lives with her husband, Justin, in South Dakota. She teaches middle school and loves traveling, collecting quotes, learning fun facts and historical information, drinking coffee, eating ice cream and enjoying good conversation with friends.|