Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How It's Supposed to Be

Those who were in church on Sunday heard the challenge to read the book of Matthew during July. I encouraged people not to ignore the difficult parts. Chapter 1 has its geneology, and that's one of those spots not to skip.

Though I'm not a total literalist when it comes to the Bible, I do believe everything in the Bible is there for a reason, because the creator of all things, God Himself, wants it that way. But it does take some work to understand things, and Matthew 1 is a perfect example. If we really want to know what's going on, we need to know who those people are who are listed in that geneology.

Joanna, my niece, asked me this morning if I was familar with a "Chronological Bible." Yes, I've heard of them, but never looked at one. It's been put together as a way of helping people understand, for example, what the connections are between prophets like Amos and Jeremiah and the particular historical and political situation that are recorded in historical books like First and Second Kings. Where biblical historians an interpreters differ, she says the chronological Bible notes this somewhere.

But the Bible itself is put together more like a library. It's not wholly chronological. Matthew doesn't happen before Mark. Some of the books (like the prophets and Paul's letters) are simply put in the order they are because they are longer or shorter than the ones before and after.

God wants us to use our brains to do our best to discern what God is doing and what He is saying to us as we read along. That does mean, however, that we need to reference various parts to understand, instead of just skipping over what's not so easy to understand. As we use our brains, and talk together with scholars and teachers, we will learn more of what God wants us to learn, as we grow closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.

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