How to Study the Bible
Introduction - Lesson #01
Commands to Study, Levels of Responsibility
Almost the entire book of Deuteronomy is the last speech
that Moses gave to the Jews before he died. Moses had led the Jews
out of slavery in Egypt, they had spent 40 years in the wilderness area
south of present day Israel, and now they were about to enter the land
that God had promised to them. But before they took possession, Moses
wanted to remind them of their recent history and the agreement that they
had made with God. Chapters 29 and 30 list some of the blessings
that the Jews had received from God, and what further blessings would come
from obeying God's law. It also stated the problems that would come
for disobeying it. Then God stated several things about his law in
We live today in a world where most people can read, and
a printed Bible is easily available in most countries. However the
Jews who listened to Moses were uneducated slaves. How could God
keep his promise to make the law easily available, and insure that a nation
obeys his laws?
It was not too difficult to obey - God's moral and
legal requirements were set up in a way that a nation of ex-slaves would
find them practical to live by. In contrast, it is very difficult
to read, let alone obey the complexity of laws in our country.
God's law was available - God did not sit up in heaven
and hide his thinking from us. He did not store his laws in a remote
part of the world, where only a few people would have the resources available
to reach it. He intended that everyone would have access to it.
God's law was to affect our attitudes and actions
- God wanted the Jews to talk about his law to each other. He wanted
it to be stored in their hearts, and he wanted them to do it. God
is interested in affecting our behavior and the motives for our behavior.
The legal process and the religious ceremony was not the focus of the law
- behavior was the focus.
God's laws are simple cause and effect - If we drop
a ball, it falls to the ground. If we put water on a fire, the fire
goes out. All around us is a world which shows us that when one action
occurs, a specific result will follow. God is trying to show us the
same concept in human relationships. He emphasises this by saying
that that we are free to try other ways of dealing with each other than
God's way, but it will fail. Good things will come to us if we do
things God's way, and our life will collapse if we refuse his guidance.
God's concepts were to be taught to the children by their
parents at home on a daily basis
God's word was to be publically read every seven years at
a festival that the entire Jewish population was to attend. This
handled the problem of the people not being able to read, and provided
for their training at a time that was convenient to them. It insured
that the adults would be reminded of the laws on a regular basis, and that
the children as they grew up would also start to learn from the law.
When the law was publically read, it was translated into
their language (when needed), and explained.
The older adult men, as leaders of their families, spent
more time studying the law than their families did.
The leaders of the people were expected to be more familiar
with the law than the common person, but the desire of God was that all
know the basics of the law.
Kings were required to have a personal copy of the law, and
to study it regularly. Since a king was often in the role of a judge,
he needed to know the law well. The regular study of the Bible was
also designed to temper his rule, and make him more reasonable with his
Ezra's example as a teacher: Before he taught others,
he committed himself to be a student of the Bible, and to be one who obeyed
what it said.
The basic message of the Bible can be understood by everyone
God intends his word to change our behavior
Parents have a responsibility to teach God's concepts to
Fathers have the greatest responsibility within a family
to know and teach God's word
All of the Bible should be periodically read
Leaders in the church, or in government, need to be people
who are committed to study God's word regularly
Teachers need to be committed to Bible study, and to live
an example of the life they are asking others to assume
Last Update: 10/28/2002
Copyright (c) 1998, 2002 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
All Rights Reserved.