Why Do We Read The Bible?
We don’t study because we want information. We don’t long for a list of the twelve tribes of Israel, a definition of the civil law, or a catalog of the rivers mentioned in the conquest of Canaan. These things are all important as we study. But they are a means to an end. This is not our main motivation.
We don’t study because we want answers to our problems. Sometimes answers come when we study. God may use particular parts of the word to lay out principles about who he is, how life works, what happens when we relate to other people in certain ways. These are benefits to studying the Bible. But this is not our main motivation.
We don’t study so we can be more like Jesus. Yes, of course he is our example. He is the perfect human, the savior, the ultimate answer. We can learn of his reactions, his practices, his schedule, his way of leadership. We can and should emulate him, notice his tone when he speaks and the way he sees people. But this is not our main motivation as we study the Bible.
So why do we do it?
We study God’s word so that we might worship and know him. THAT is the ultimate goal. That is the motivation. What our souls long for, what is missing in us, what we ache for as we walk through this broken world is not information, answers, or an example. It is Jesus himself that we long for. It is to see him in all of his glory, to know him for who he truly is, to see his majesty and wonder. We are drawn to his brilliance, refreshed by his candor, encouraged by his tenderness.
Therefore, we get up early or stay up late to read. We download apps to help us stick to a Bible reading plan. We enlist the help of others to hold us accountable by signing up for Bible studies. We do it because we want to worship him, to know him, to experience that kind of intimacy with the living, sustaining God.
The amazing thing is, he wants the same thing.
Over and over we hear these words from God, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” In Exodus 6:7, as God promises deliverance from the slave drivers of Egypt, in the midst of many promises, he tells Israel, “I will take you to be my people, and will be your God…” The prophet Ezekiel brings the same message in Ezekiel 36:28, saying, “You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” Jeremiah 7 and 30 have the same refrain.
At the end of the story, when all is said and done, all of our days will be marked by intimacy with and worship of Jesus. Revelation 21:1-3a reads, Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’”
This is our final destination, and we feel it in our bones. We long for that kind of absolute intimacy and unclouded worship. And so for now, we seek him in the pages of the Bible. As Michael Williams teaches, “We only know Jesus robed in the garments of scripture.” We will keep doing it, until we finally see the Word face to face.
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