Read: Leviticus 8: 1 – 36
So Moses followed the Lord’s instructions. Leviticus 8:4a
Leviticus, and the Bible in general, is filled with rules and commands, some of which I don’t understand. I really struggled with some of these when I was first becoming a Christian as an adult. One in particular that struck me as odd and seemed to serve as the center of commands that didn’t make sense to me was Leviticus 19:19 – Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. WHAT?!?!
Reading commands such as this didn’t seem to make sense because they would be pretty much impossible to keep (have you tried to buy work pants that aren’t make of multiple kinds of material?). After reading these I was left feeling frustrated and discouraged. In retrospect, I truly believe that the enemy uses this kind of confusion to try to get new believers to abandon their new found faith. Jesus addressed this in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:
Matthew 13:3 – 9, 18 – 23:
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
So how do we approach difficult or confusing scripture? First, we need to remember what Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16 – 17:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
In other words, there’s nothing in the Bible that we can just throw away. If we believe in Jesus and truly seek to be Jesus followers, we must take Him at His word (which is the Bible) and obey His word.
Secondly, we need to prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and patience. We need to accept that maybe we won’t understand everything we read, but that doesn’t mean we should stop reading. As we prayerfully read God’s Word, we will start to develop an understanding of who God is and who He wants us to be. We will also gain an appreciation for the way God has crafted this amazing book. We will start to see that some promises and commands were for the ancient Israelites, such as the one about wearing clothes of mixed fabric, while others apply to all of God’s people from the Old Testament through today. We will see the differences among symbolic poetry, historical writings, prophetic writings, etc. God will give us wisdom and discernment and make known to us what He wishes us to know through His word. As He tells us in Deuteronomy 29: The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.
For me, the Alpha class served as one of the key turning points in helping me to more effectively read the Bible. If you struggle with reading your Bible and understanding what you’re reading, I strongly encourage you to attend the free Alpha course dinner this Wednesday (Sep 16, 2015) and consider taking the Alpha course starting next week. More info can be found here: http://vineyardwheeling.com/the-alpha-course/
Prayer: Lord, thank You for providing us with Your Word so we can better understand You. Thank You for your instructions, commands, and promises. Please give me wisdom as I read the Bible and help me to understand Your Word better and apply it to my life and actions. In Jesus’ name… Amen.