Most people I know who have tried to read the Bible from cover to cover started from the beginning. They get through Genesis, and enjoy most of the Exodus, but lose interest when they get to the book of Leviticus. What is the book all about anyway? It can be summed up in one word – worship.
In the 9th chapter of Leviticus, we read that Moses and Aaron kept the word that God commanded about how to worship Him. “Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people and blessed them… and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And the fire came out… and consumed the burnt offering” (Verses 22, 24). In the next chapter, the fire of the Lord came from heaven again, but this time, instead of consuming the burnt offering, it consumed Nadab and Abihu – Aaron’s sons. Nadab and Abihu did not keep God’s Word. What can we conclude about the Lord from this passage?
If this was an isolated event in Scripture, than any conclusion drawn from Leviticus 9 could be dismissed as speculative at best. But we see throughout Scripture, that God is serious about how He is to be worshipped. Those who did not keep God’s word were dealt with harshly – King Saul, Uzzah, Ananias and Sapphira. And who had the last word about worship and keeping God’s Word? Jesus did.
The apostle John described Jesus as the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire. This Holy One told the individuals in the church at Philadelphia that because some have kept His Word, He intended to make them a pillar in the temple of God. Jesus ends the ultimate worship book with these words, “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7).
Those of you who have tried to read the Bible from cover to cover, and were arrested by the content in the book of Leviticus, please go back and try again. Use this key to unlock the book: God determines what is holy and unholy. He determines what is acceptable and what is an abomination. And don’t forget, the major theme of Leviticus is worship.
Brian L. Spivey
I did not study Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians for the first fifteen years of my Christian life. Of course I used some of the classic proof text passages like 4:17, to prove the rapture of the church; 5:23, to prove that man is made of three parts; and the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians to try and figure out the identity of the Man of lawlessness. Oh, if I knew then what I know now, I would have devoured the contents of this book and spent the rest of my years marveling at how the Holy Spirit used the contents to establish my faith upon the Rock of Christ!
The apostle Paul came to the city of Thessalonica after he was beaten at Philippi. He taught for three Sabbaths and then started preaching to the Gentiles. It was recorded that he was there for at least three weeks and then the leaders of that city ran him out of town. Paul left some brand new believers in Thessalonica. These believers were newly born – infants in the faith. So what did Paul teach them? Did he expound on man being a tri-part being? Did he spend a huge amount of text on the man of lawlessness? No. Paul began his letter with the doctrine of election (v. 4). These new believers were suffering persecution, and Paul wanted to reassure them that suffering was an essential part of the Christian life. He informed them that though they were still infants in the faith, God had used their suffering as an example of true faith. They had received the Holy Spirit and proof of that gift was perseverance in the midst of suffering. He referred to the theme of comfort at least twelve times in these two short letters. He wanted those infants to know that God called them for salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) and they could find comfort in the hope of Christ’s return.
Though they were doing well, these infants could have gotten discouraged by all that suffering, so Paul admonishes them not to grow weary of doing good (2 T 3:14).
If I would have focused the first fifteen years of my Christian walk on understanding these truths, instead of trying to avoid negative confessions, claiming God’s promises so that I could get rich and healthy, and attempting to convince everyone that the Bible teaches divine health, my faith would have been firmly planted on the solid rock of Christ. Now I spend my time meditating on the truth that God called me for salvation and the sufferings of this present age cannot be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. I was under-nourished, now I am getting the spiritual vitamins and essential nutrients from the milk of the Word so that I may grow up into full maturity. Come join me. Taste and see that the Lord is good!
Brian L. Spivey
Our thinking of God should begin with His name(s) as found in the Bible. Theology itself should begin here too. In his massive book, THE DOCTRINE OF GOD, Dr. John Frame writes on “Biblical Descriptions of God” beginning with a simple — yet profound — chapter on the ‘names’ of God. It’s a great chapter to study, and a model of doing clear, biblical thinking about God.
Here are two key paragraphs which ought to stir you and help you to know God better.
God’s name is his self-revelation. NAME, in the general sense, is a virtual synonym of word. And, like word, it is a way of referring to God himself. There is an identity between God and his name, as between God and his word. As we sing praise to God, we sing praise to his name (e.g., Pss. 7:17; 9:2; 18:49); we give to him the glory due his name (29:2); we exalt his name (34:3) and fear it (61:5). God’s name is an object of worship. Since in Scripture God alone is the proper object of worship, this language equates the Lord’s name and the Lord himself.
Similarly, the name of God defends us (Ps. 20:1) and saves us (54:1). We trust in him name for deliverance (33:21). His name endures forever (72:17; 135:13). It “reaches to the ends of the earth” (48:10). It is holy and awesome (111:9). god guides us “for his name sake” (23:3). In Isaiah 30:27, it is “the Name of the Lord” itself that comes to bring judgment on the nations and blessings on his people. So God’s name has divine attributes and performs divine acts. In short, Scripture says about the name of God virtually everything it says about God.
~ Dr John M Frame, The Doctrine of God, page 348.
The Armies of the Lamb: The Spirituality of Andrew Fuller, was edited by Dr. Michael Haykin, and published by Joshua Press, © 2001. It provides readers with a snapshot of the spiritual growth and influence of the eighteenth century pastor, Andrew Fuller. Haykin compiled forty-six of Fuller’s letters. The letters are not organized by any obvious pattern: size, content, or geographical sequence; however, the apparent “randomness” of the letters seem to prove that Fuller’s life and ministry was governed by the Scriptures.
In several of Fuller’s letters, he encouraged many of his recipients to “Be conversant with their Bible.” Fuller also told a group of pastors to make sure they didn’t just use their Bible to look for passages to preach, but to “Read them that you may get good to your own souls.” This is good advice, but is that enough for spiritual growth? NO. Reading our Bibles is not enough — we must allow our Bibles to read us!
The Scriptures teach that The Word of God judges the intentions of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). It will usually be in our quiet time that the Word will show us the motives of our actions. For example, why did I help my neighbor fix his car? Was it because I wanted my neighbor to be in debt to me so that when my car breaks down he will feel obligated to help me? Did we give money to that college student so that in the future, someone will give money to our children? Or do we just do good deeds for God’s approval or “good karma?” We should read God’s Word, but it will not benefit us as much as allowing God’s Word to read our hearts so that both our hearts and actions will bring glory to God.
Brian L. Spivey