ALL of Scripture?
ALL Scripture is useful and works to equip us for the work of the Kingdom. But…no one likes to read Leviticus, right? What about Numbers?? Many people decide to read through the Bible in a year and start in Genesis — yay! In the first book of the Bible, we’ve got:
- The creation of the world
- Cain and Able
- Noah’s Ark
- The Tower of Babble
- Abram/Abraham and his promise
- Sodom and Gomorrah
- Isaac and his twin sons
- The selling of the birthright to Jacob
- Jacob, his two wives, two concubines, and all those sons
- Joseph, sold into slavery but becoming Pharaoh’s right hand man
If you’re reading through the Bible, Genesis is pretty exciting stuff. In Exodus, we start strong with Moses and the rescue of God’s people from Egypt, but we can get a little bogged down with the Law and the Tabernacle. Still the drama of the Israelites in Exodus is pretty compelling, so we press on. But when we hit Leviticus and Deuteronomy, it might feel like hitting a wall. Many people lose heart somewhere in Leviticus.
You might even ask yourself, how can the Old Testament books, like Leviticus and Deuteronomy, be useful to me, in this day and age? Have you ever wondered what studying the Bible has to do with serving God?
Let’s take a closer look at Leviticus. Did you know that Leviticus 19 mirrors Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in teaching us how to live a godly life? They both discuss: the importance of the Law and the Holiness of God (Lev 19:1-4, 11-19; Matt 5:17-19, 48), the sin of lust (Lev 19:20-22, 29; Matt 5:27-20), the sin of anger and holding grudges (Lev 19:18; Matt 5:21-22), how sin begins in the heart, not with behavior (Lev 19:17, Matt 5:21-48), the requirements to love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18; Matt 7:12), and to care for the poor and the sojourner (Lev 19:10, 33-34; Matt 6:2). I discovered this connection when I was studying Matthew 7:24-25 and writing about the Family Workshop.
Obedience Looks Like Love
In Matthew 7, we learn that Jesus expects us to hear AND do His words. His command echoes God’s call to the people of Israel in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6 (“Hear, O Israel” really means “hear and do what I say, Israel”). Deuteronomy 6 also teaches that we are to love God by obeying Him because He first loved us with HESED, a steadfast and faithful love that saves.
Love and obedience are tied intricately together by Jesus; He said we must show our love for Him by obeying His commands (John 14:23-24). Jesus taught that these two commands sum up all of the Law and prophets’ teachings: love God and love your neighbor (Matt 22:37-40). Later, in 1 John 4, we read, “We love because he first loved us…And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:19-21). Studying the Law, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), explains how to show love to both God and our neighbor.
In God’s Word, we see the cycle of love-obedience-love many times. First, God’s life-changing love is the only way obedience is possible. Then, love for God grows our desire to obey Him. Finally, we show our obedience by loving God and others. When we study and practice God’s Word, we learn by experience about God’s love for us. In all this, the Word of God works, along with the Holy Spirit, to change our hearts:
- “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ez 36:26-27, ESV)
- In John 17:17, Jesus prayed for His followers (including us): “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.”
- Jesus has sanctified His people by washing them in the word (Ephesians 5:25-27).
- God’s Word is the Sword with which the Holy Spirit defends us during spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:16-18, see also Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, The Sword of the Spirit)
Good Word = Good Work
God’s Word teaches us what is true, helps us see our sin, corrects us when we are wrong, teaching us to do what is right. God uses Scripture to prepare and equip us for good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). God’s Good Word is good for us!
Scripture is a powerful change agent…because Jesus is the Word. We study all of Scripture because all of it bears witness to Jesus. If we want to draw near and know Jesus more deeply, we have to look into His beautiful, good word. As we know Jesus more intimately, our hearts produce good work. This “work” is an outward demonstration of the inward change wrought by our Tutor, the Holy Spirit and God’s inspired Word, working together, in us. Any of our “good work” is truly good fruit, the fruit of Spirit in us.
How has reading God’s Word blessed you? Do you have a favorite book? Can you see Jesus all over the Old Testament??
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