By Stephen Leonard
“Is not my Word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29
Bible illiteracy abounds. Few show much if any acquaintance with the Bible’s contents. There are calendars produced every year from December to January for reading through the Bible in the new year. Not very many stick with it through the end of the first or second month. We are simply too busy!
Is that it? Or is there some other pull on our desires which keeps us from opening its covers? Something else, anything else, is more demanding, more enticing, more “necessary” to do at this particular point of our day. I think there is a certain personage prowling around to keep you from it. His name is Satan.
In the modern age in America, and in the world really, there are so many other options to choose from, things that cry out for your time, that “must” be done before the Bible is read. So it doesn’t get read.
Yet it is one of the only things that touch your hands other than your children or yourself or other human beings, which endures forever. Isn’t that interesting? The Bible remains forever, but all else that we touch, except people, is sand sifting through our fingers; they cannot be grasped forever; they pass away.
We know when reading novels, they come to an end, courses of study conclude, television shows are gone and forgotten, movies are but two or so hours, activities, games, meals, sleeping, and work last only for specific times. But the Word of our God endures forever.
What does that really mean? How does God’s Word last forever? Does it reside in us once we receive it into our knowledge, our minds, our consciences, our hearts? Does it change us? And does this change last forever?
There are just words within it. How do these words leave a permanent mark? Yet this is what the Bible claims for itself. Permanency! When it is read, thought about, believed, and trusted, it continues to live in you, in your soul, which is eternal. God’s Word is dynamic, living, and eternal. It is totally unique. It transforms you! And it claims such for itself. And Jesus, who is “The Word,” confirms this over and over.
Unless you fully believe this about your Bible, you will never read it, eat it, digest it. You will not desire the need for it, which overcomes your other desires. It will never become a habit in your life. You can never know the Bible so well that you have no need for any more of it. You cannot plumb its depths. It never gets old. It is rather, as the Bible claims, “new every morning.”
The Bible is not obsolete. It is not unavailable in America. It sits on your bedside table, on your shelf, on your coffee table, or somewhere in your house. If not, you can buy one. In any case, it needs to become your daily habit. Martin Luther said of it, “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold on me. The Bible is not antique or modern. It is eternal.” That is why it is to be read and absorbed daily.
“How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He has said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”
(1st verse of Rippon’s Selection of Hymns, “How Firm a Foundation,” 1787)