Wednesday, 8 December 2010

What is the Bible?

Is it a book? It’s name in Greek – ho biblios – means ‘the book’. But if it is a book, then we’re in trouble because nobody reads any more. At least young people don’t. They play computer games, watch videos, go on social-networking sites like Facebook, do anything that involves technology, but they don’t read.

In June 2002, the Office for National Statistics Omnibus survey found that:
- Nearly half of adults had read at least five books or more in the previous 12 months
- A quarter of adults had not read a book during the same period, including almost half of males aged between 16 and 24.
- 96% said they had read something in the past seven days, whether books, magazines, newspapers or text messages. Reading material varied according to age: 70% of 16 to 24-year-olds had read a magazine, compared to 59% of 55 to 64-year-olds; 33% of 16 to 24-year-olds had read fiction, compared to 43% of 55 to 64-year-olds.

The Bible Jesus Read
- What we call the OT they would have called the Bible (or Tanakh).
- Jews split it into: Torah (teaching), Prophets (inc. ‘history’), and Writings – so, roughly speaking: Teaching, Prophecy, Other.
- The book most quoted by Jesus was one of the books written by Moses, the man of God – Deuteronomy (in fact it’s an extended sermon by Moses). Deuteronomy is from the Torah, and possibly the same book found by priests and scribes in the time of Josiah (‘the book of the law’) 2Ki 22:8 cf. Deu 30:10. It is the book that not only describes how to live, but it teaches us about the LORD:
- Deu 30:19-20 19 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 "that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." or: ‘…for in this your life consists, and on this depends the length of time that you stay in the country’ NJB

Shiny Happy People
- What guarantee to you have that you will live a long, prosperous, and happy life? The Israelites had a covenant with the LORD. They would have Israel, the promised land, as their inheritance, and the LORD would have them as his inheritance (his possession) Deu 4:20-21 cf Psa 78, 106. What do we have? Our citizenship is in heaven (Phl 3:20), that is our inheritance – the Kingdom of God. But we have to remember that we are His inheritance – we belong to Him, we’re God’s people. And He will not forsake us:
- Psalm 94:14 For the LORD will not cast off His people, Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
- Jesus quoted the book of Deu when being tempted by Satan Mat 4:4 ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God ‘; 4:7 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God'; 4:10 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.' (Deu 8:3; 6:15; 6:13-14 respectively).

The Bible is message. It’s purpose is to bring us as God’s people into closer relationship with Him (2Ti 3:16-17). It is also powerful, and able to save those who believe it (Rom 10:17 ‘and hearing by the word of Christ’ probably means ‘hearing the Good News about Jesus Christ’).

We need to think a lot harder about the format we use to present this message to young people. Blogs are better than books. Videos, short clips on web-pages, are better still. For much of the world these clips are accessed on mobile phones rather than laptops. The sooner we move into the world of digital media the better!

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