The First Five Books [The Pentateuch (Genesis–Deuteronomy)]
Two Ways To Read Scripture
There are at least two ways the Bible can be read by you as a reader. You can read Scripture as a book of past events, or you may read it looking for a present communication from God for your life.
If you should choose to read Scripture as past events, you will see the centuries from which the inheritance of the Western religious world came. You will encounter the enthralling stories of the ancient world, which bordered the Mediterranean Sea. You will have a glimpse of the rise and fall of many empires. All these events are told in action-packed narratives. You may observe, as you plunder through the pages, the roots of one nation emerging into world dominance, called by her God, and covenanted to her God to provide for humankind a redeemer. You might investigate some notes of comparison: Israel leaves Egypt for religious freedom—Englishmen left England for religious freedom; The Canaanites and the invading Hebrews—the Indians and the invading New Americans. You may hear the voice of the prophets calling Israel to honor the covenant or reap the consequences, as you hear the modern preachers calling for repentance. But, alas, it remains ancient and jumbled. Our modern mind notes how dislocated the material appears. The ordering of the books both Old and New Testament are not conducive to reading the storyline. The addition of chapters and verses cause us to pause at the wrong time in a story and slows down our reading to a snail’s pace. Our eye gladly stops reading these reflections and the book is put down, often picked again in the next day or so, but the same frustrations result. Those that have grown to read the fragments have developed a habit of reading that it’s hard for them to get their head around the idea that their just may be a better way of reading.
If, on the other hand, you read it looking for a present communication from God, you may miss the richness and importance of how God has dealt with his children from the beginning of time, thus knowing how he might deal with your community of faith or you in a present life situation. If you just dip in and out of the sacred text hoping that something will inspire you for the day, and while that may happen, there really is a better way of consuming Scripture. Reading whole stories at one sitting is surely better than reading a disconnected set of verses. Well, in my opinion, it is.
It should be said, however, that the first way noted above is much more apt to get you closer to hearing the real God of Scripture than the last way. This is not to say that one should abandon the latter way of engaging Scripture, but rather minimize it in favor of hearing and knowing what God originally said to the first hearers/readers, while wondering and asking what the author might have intended for his/her readers to understand. Why? Because whatever God said through the authors then, he is still saying today. The message does not change, it’s just often allusive when we read in a fragmented way.