I met my wife in high school, in our junior year. We didn’t share every class together, but we knew where we were and would try to meet each other between classes. After a few weeks of dating, we decided to write each other love notes and letters. We would pass each the notes to each other while going to the next class. Then we would discreetly read it during class and maybe write another. These notes would vary in length and subject, but each would have the tone of our love and affection for each other. Saying “I love you” once was never enough, we wanted to express our joy and love in each of these letters.
Today, these notes and letters are in bags and boxes. Every note is accounted for after all those years and every once in a while, we’ll flip through them again.
What if I told you God has written love letters to you?
The bible is 66 love letters written to you. It’s 66 books written by 40 authors all inspired by God,
“Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another..” 2 Timothy 3:17 meant to “show us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.” And every book and letter shows us how much God loves us and wants the best for us. He made sure these letters were kept safe through centuries so everyone could read them.
So how do we read the bible?
We need to understand the bible was written over a period of centuries. In context, most of the New Testament was written to specific churches and people. For example, the Letter to the Ephesians was written by Paul (who planted that church) to a church in Ephesus, a Greek city in modern-day Turkey. So when you read Ephesians, we must understand that context. Paul was writing to specific problems and speaking specific encouragements to that specific church. Now, as we understand things, God wanted modern day people to read that same letter. So when we read Ephesians 3:20-
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”-The Message
We can understand it was written over 2,000 years ago, but as a modern day reader, this applies to me as well. See? Here’s another example found in Jeremiah 29:11-
“As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”
Am I in Babylon? Nope, the Jewish people were in captivity from 605 BC-539 BC, so there’s the context. The Jewish people needed to receive some encouragement and this was written for them. But what about this powerful encouragement found in the last sentence-
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”
Can that be for us? Sure! It shows God’s character in that He cares for us! He wants us to understand who He is from reading letters to others.
When we read the bible, we need to remember the context, the background of what was going on back then. And, we can also read the bible as it was written for us and to us in our day.
In future posts, I’ll continue with this series as I think it’s important for us to understand the bible. For now, I’d like to encourage you to pick up a bible and read the gospel (translated good news) of John, found in the New Testament. John writes about his eyewitness accounts of who Jesus is as a person and who He claimed to be. He writes fairly simple and it’s easy to understand.