We usually think of Bible
study in terms of one or more people reading a book, because we are from
a culture where most people can read and books are easy to obtain.
Some of our examples do not fit this pattern, because most people in ancient
cultures could not read. Often not even the king knew how to read.
But while we may not be able to find methods for how to read from these
examples, there is much to learn from the attitudes displayed toward a
message from God.
Cornelius is one of the better examples of having good attitude toward Bible study. This man was a Roman soldier, assigned to a country which hated the Romans. Yet somehow he had earned the respect of the Jews, had helped the poor, and was a man of prayer When an angel told him to send for Peter, he did not waste any time. Neither Cornelius or Peter seemed to know why they were supposed to get together, but Cornelius decided that Peter must have something important to say from God and so he had gathered a group together to listen to Peter. He showed honor to both the message and the messenger. Until we believe that the Bible has a message from God, and we are willing to listen to God, Bible study will have little value to us.
Cornelius, like the early church, had the advantage of talking with men who had been personally trained by Jesus. The power of their message caused the Christians to build strong relationships with each other, which was shown by the time they spent together and their willingness to financially assist each other. We can touch that power by reading the books and letters that these men left for us.
The Ethiopian official and the Bereans give us additional examples of good attitudes. The Ethiopian official was on a journey home from a trip to Israel. He was probably a Jew, living far from Israel, who tried to go to some of the important Jewish feasts, in obedience to the Law. He put the travel time to good use: reading the Bible. Not all of the Bible is easy to understand, and the official was struggling with a section. When offered help, he willingly admitted his ignorance, asked for assistance, and listened carefully to Philip. The Bereans also listened carefully to Paul and then verified what he said by reading the Scriptures. Bible study requires a heart that is open to new ideas, even if we are skeptical.
Josiah shows a slightly different process of Bible study. Here was a situation where a godly man became king over a nation which had refused to serve God. When he started to rebuild the temple they discovered a scroll, a part of the Bible that no one had read for years. The king's officials investigated it, and then read it before the king. The king was greatly concerned about the message he heard. He quickly sent to inquire from God by a prophetess, to verify that the message was from God, and to get advice about how to avoid the danger the Jews were in. God was pleased with Josiah's attitude. Josiah then gathered the people to share with them what he had learned, and asked the people to commit themselves to obeying God's laws. He later attempted to remove the idol worship in the land, to obey the commands he found in the scroll.
The Bible does not just present good attitudes toward Bible study. It also shows people who do not respect a message from God. Jehoiakim was not one of the Jew's better kings, and he did not respect the prophets that God sent to him. He was willing to listen to the message, but he felt that he had the power to destroy the message by simply burning it. Both the king and his officials did not respect God's message, they showed no fear of God, nor were they upset about their behavior. As a result, God had the king bound in chains and carried off to a jail in Babylon (2 Chron. 36:5-6).
Last Updated: 10/31/2002
Copyright (c) 1998, 2002 by Bruce J. Butterfield. All Rights Reserved.