It’s getting to be that time of year again when our home Bible study group gets together for another season of study. We have been studying the Bible as a small community of believers for a number of years now – and we get into some pretty deep stuff. I try to teach in what is called an exegetical method – a verse by verse discussion of the Scripture – as seen through the eyes of the original context and how the Hebrew and Greek languages differ from the English translation.
Greek was one of my favorite classes in seminary. I don’t mean to suggest that it was easy for me – it wasn’t – but once I was able to examine the Bible in Greek, it came so much more alive that when reading in the English. Way back during the time of Christ, the average Greek person had a vocabulary of about 14,000 words in comparison to the average American today who has, on average, a 3000 word vocabulary. I know – that’s tough to believe, but English is an imperfect language that leaves understanding the Bible vague at times and confusing at others. And we aren’t very careful about our grammar and our word usage.
I almost quit school the first day I was there. After completing my first class period in Elementary Greek, I left the classroom and was on my way to the attendance office to drop the class. The whole period all I could think of was how big a mistake I had made. I was overwhelmed by the whole idea of getting back to school and it was already painfully evident that I had made a massive mistake. There was no way that I could learn at the pace and with the ease that I had when I was back in high school and college.
Thankfully, Dr. Smith, who was a Greek and Hebrew scholar, asked me to reach a compromise. He promised that if I stuck it out for three weeks and still wanted to leave, he would sign the appropriate paperwork and I would be free to depart. I agreed to his terms and the rest, as they say, is history. I was hopelessly hooked on Greek several weeks later and since that time, have thoroughly enjoyed my studies. Last month, in fact, I enrolled to take an online class to dust off my Greek and get back to the level I was at when I left school. It’s difficult to believe that I studied more than 10 years ago now and it is true that you lose it if you don’t use it!
And once again, I find myself struggling to learn the language. But I am committed to doing it and it takes discipline to stay the course. The same is true with our individual study of the Bible. It is so easy to get out of the rhythm of studying God’s Word and once out of the habit, its very difficult to get back to a mindset of growing closer to God through studying His Word. The verse for this evening reminds us to keep working on our lessons. Although this particular verse comes from the Old Testament, it is equally compelling to study in the New Testament as well. We are told, in Joshua 1:8, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
My encouragement tonight is that God wants us to worship Him and think about the commands, decrees and lessons that we are to follow. This is best accomplished through prayer and study. My prayer is that you find a good group of people to study the Bible with – and then stick with it! Don’t give up, as I almost did! It would have been a horrible mistake and one that I almost made. And as the Holy Spirit reveals more understanding of God’s Word to you, I pray that you will use it to be drawn closer to Him. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…