Guest Author - Preena Deepak
Is your Bible study brimming with new discoveries or are you reading away page after page with no clue? The Bible, when read with due reverence and sincerity will fill you with peace, joy and strength. Would you rather equip your day with these rich treasures that the Bible offers or reduce your Bible study to a monotonous chore? If you find your Bible reading lacking in life giving energy, join in exploring some basics of effective Bible reading and study.
Nehemiah 8 records an interesting assembly of the Children of Israel. The wall of Jerusalem had been rebuilt and the exiles who returned from captivity had settled in their towns. They gather together in front of the Water Gate to hear Ezra the Priest and Scribe read the Law of Moses which was given to the people of Israel. This incident brings out certain shining elements of the reverence and sincerity displayed by the Israelites in reading Godís word. The Bible they had at that time was the Book of Law.
The people told Ezra to bring out the Law of Moses and read it for them (Nehemiah 8:1). Unlike our times, the Israelites did not have the luxury of having a personal copy of the Bible. They had to rely on their religious leaders, priests and scribes to read the Book of Law for them. With an eagerness to hear Godís command, the Israelites gather together in a common place to hear Godís word read aloud. Verse 2 clearly states that all the men, women and whoever had understanding was present in the assembly. This was not a select group. It was the whole remnant and this congregation no doubt included children who were old enough to understand the word.
For any reading of the Bible to be effective, there must be an eagerness to study, learn and understand the word of God. The Israelites displayed this trait in coming together to hear God.
Further Nehemiah 8:5 says, And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Even before the law was read out and even without any signal from Ezra the people sprang to their feet as soon as Ezra opened the Book of Law. The people gathered together not just out of an eagerness to know Godís word but also with deep reverence.
Do you respect and revere the Word of God? In what posture do you read the Bible? Even if you cannot stand or kneel while reading Godís word, sit straight and read with reverence knowing that the word in your hand is from God and not man.
A group of Levites and learned men helped the people gathered to understand what was being read to them. For most of the Israelites, this was their first exposure to the Law of Moses and only this extra explanation helped improve their understanding.
There are many tough passages in the Bible which a casual reading can never help understand. Take the help of your Pastor or any of the Elders in the Church to study such passages. Another thing to do is to buy a study Bible with side notes or a Bible commentary as supplements to your daily Bible reading and study.
Ö..all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Nehemiah 8:9. Why did the people cry to hear the word of God? We began by saying that a sincere study of the Bible results in joy and peace. Paul gives the answer Öfor I would not have known sin except through the lawÖ. Romans 7: 7. The people cried after understanding the law as it convicted them of their sinful ways.
For peace and joy to come out of a Bible study there must be a conviction, confession and forgiveness that flows out of a clear reading, understanding and application of Godís word. Unless your Bible study and mediation results in life transforming changes in your thoughts, words and deeds, there is no use in reading the Bible.
As a believer in Christ you might have started off with a regular Bible reading schedule. Do you find yourself reading the Bible as a matter of routine or as a daily replenishment of strength? Does your Bible reading and study translate into life changing actions and behavior or does it end up as a load of information stacked up in memory?
James 1: 22-25 is a wake-up call to believers to stop being forgetful hearers of the word and start applying the word to life. Make a commitment to live out Godís word and when you stick to your decision, you will soon find nourishment for your soul and joy without measure.
Here's the link to buy the Quest Study Bible, with its useful notes for better understanding.
Buy NIV Quest Study Bible: The Question and Answer Bible from Amazon.com
This link is to a complete Bible Commentary giving deeper insights.
Buy Nelson's Quick Reference Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Commentary: Nelson's Quick Reference Series from Amazon.com