Whither Leviathans?

Different people have different ways of reading and using the Bible. The famous evangelist Smith Wigglesworth only learned to read in later life, and he never read anything except the Bible. Many people read small portions of the Bible each day, as part of their time alone with God. Some people read whole books at a single sitting, gaining the broad sweep of the story or the message, while others minutely study single verses, meditating on the depth of meaning of each word and phrase.

‘How can I get the most out of reading the Bible?’ I hear you ask. Good question, my friend. You may have noticed that we use a modern translation of the Bible, which makes it easier to grapple with the deeper meaning, since this bypasses the problems of interpreting the old style language as well. Lo, dost not thou reckon thusly, methinks, forsaking the rock badger; yea, even unto the third generation, until thy tongue cleaveth to the roof of thy mouth. See what I mean?

The truth is that the Bible can sometimes feel dry or heavy, and difficult to understand. It’s not a cause for embarrassment to admit it, since God himself says that we need the Holy Spirit to interpret the Bible, and we sometime forget to ask for his help. The best cure for going through a dry spell may be to change the time or location, or to use a different translation. Perhaps you could read the Psalms from The Message, or 2 Kings in the Living Bible. Or what about checking out Colossians from JB Philips’ translation? Alternatively, you may prefer to get hold of a commentary on a particular book, and slowly work your way through it. Or use one of the many excellent Bible reading notes resources available.

There are some particularly poor Bible jokes.

• Did you know that the apostles played cricket? Peter stood up before the eleven and was bold (bowled).
• Did you know Daniel played tennis? He served in the courts of Nebuchudnezzar.
• Who is the biggest person in the Bible? The woman of Samaria (some area).
• Where did the Children of Israel get their sausages? From Walls of Jericho. Enough!

There was once a man who was eager to receive guidance from the Lord, and he reckoned that the best way was to look at Bible verses at random. ‘The Lord inspired it all,’ he thought, ‘so whatever I read will be directly from him.’

So he opened his Bible and pointed to a verse. He had happened to find Matthew 27:5, ‘So Judas went and hanged himself.’

‘That can’t be right,’ he thought, and tried again.

This time he found Luke 10:37, ‘Go and do likewise.’ Slightly concerned at this guidance, he tried again, this time turning way back into the Old Testament. His finger stopped at Judges 9:48.

‘Quick! Do what you have seen me do!’ he read. He soon gave up this hit-and-miss method.

Sadly, there have been Christians who have leaned too much on their own interpretation of the Bible than they have on the unchanging, loving, powerful, eternal God who inspired it. Beware of falling into the error of giving the Bible more honour than you should. Remember, it’s not the Father, Son and Holy Scriptures - we should make God himself our highest authority, because he desires that we have a relationship with him, through the Holy Spirit, on account of Christ’s death on the cross.

Finally, some questions about the Bible to ask yourself.

When did I last read any of it?
Did I understand it?
Has God spoken to me through the Bible?
Is it more important than any other book?
Is it my final authority?
Do I ask the Holy Spirit for his help to interpret it?
What colour is the cover? Where on earth did I leave it?

© 2002 Children's Ministry