Book of Jonah, part two

Yesterday I wrote about not just reading the Bible, but finding ways to get deeper into it.  Digging deeper in order to discover deeper meaning.  I want to continue to talk about that today, but first I want to say something.  The word of God is an incredible thing, it really is. On it’s own, the book is capable of everything. I want that to be absolutely clear before I say anything else here. You could toss a person in a locked room with nothing but a Bible and they’d have all they need to learn of all the goodness of the Lord and accept Him as their savior and secure their place in heaven for all eternity. I would never, never ever ever even suggest that this is an unfinished book or that it’s somehow insufficient on it’s own. Because if you take away all and leave me with just a Bible, then I am still the wealthiest man on planet earth.

Okay, so let me say this now. If you’re willing to invest yourself deeper into study, you’ll find that the Bible opens in new ways right before your eyes. Taking time to not only read Jonah’s story, but to study it, unlocked this story for me. We all learn and understand in different ways, but for me I find that the key for my full understanding is to know as much as I can about a subject. Maybe it’s my almost decade as a reporter, but I don’t just want to know that “man accomplishes feat”, I want to know his age, his job, his training regimen, the history of the feat, his family and friends, his views on life, and so on. I don’t think it’s in any way diminishing the Bible’s importance to say that if you work hard at going deeper into it’s words you’ll find greater meaning and understanding of the book. Whether you do this through internet research, study books, discussions with other believers, deep prayer over the meanings of what you’re reading, repeated readings, or whatever, that’s up to you. The point I’m trying to illustrate is that you can read your Bible or you can study your Bible, but these are two very different things. I read the book of Jonah and learned about a whiny and bitter guy who worked hard to be disobedient to God. Then, I studied the book of Jonah and learned about a man who loved his people and his country so much that he was deeply troubled by the possibility of indirectly bringing God’s mercy to his enemies. It’s two pretty different interpretations, and I only got the second one because I didn’t just read the word, but I studied it.

Before I move off of this, I also want to talk about the little thought exercise we did yesterday when I was trying to put myself in Jonah’s shoes. I don’t do stuff like this nearly often enough, but I’m going to start. The Bible was written thousands of years ago by people who were very different than I am who lived in a very different place with a very different culture. Someone I really respect said that we as American Christians miss out on a lot of understanding in the Bible because we don’t have any knowledge of the culture of the people who wrote the Bible and the situations they faced. I didn’t like it when he said this, it just struck me badly. But the more I thought about it, I realized I didn’t like it because I don’t like the idea that there’s stuff in the Bible I’m missing out on. I want all of this book, I want everything out of it that God intended. If that means I need to dig deeper, think harder, and study more, then that’s what I’ll do.

CLOSING AND PRAYER

The blog is off tomorrow but as my study resumes on Thursday I’ll be diving into one example of how my ignorance of the culture in biblical times caused me to not fully understand a Bible verse.  Once I understood the cultural significance of it, this verse just came alive for me.  So I hope you’ll join me on Thursday as we take a look at that.

For prayers today, I just really feel like we should pray about the rest of this week.  Halloween can be a divisive issue for Christians, but I really just feel like the Lord is putting on my heart that we pray for the safety and protection of our children’s health and their minds over the course of this Halloween weekend.  As a movie critic, I’ve seen more than my share of horror movies, and I know that the dangers facing kids during this season aren’t just physical, but they can be mental as well.  Modern horror films sometimes go so far beyond “scary” and can contain some of the most graphic images and situations imaginable.  I’ve seen things in these movies that left a permanent smudge on me, and I can only imagine the damage some of these images could do to a child.  So please just join with me and let’s lift up all the little ones in our lives in prayer.  Ask God to protect them, body and mind, and ask Him to give us, their guardians, great wisdom when it comes to what to expose them to during this Halloween weekend.

That’s it for today.  I love you guys very much and I hope you’re each having a wonderful day.  Whatever situation you find yourself in today, never forget that God is in it with you.  He loves you!

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