There is an unusual Medieval tradition written about in a Sefer Harokeah (Jewish literature) about a young lad’s first day at heder (Jewish school for children) where the rabbi would take the new student in his lap and go through a particular ritual. He would give the lad a slate and write the aleph-bet and some verses on it. He then would put some honey on the scroll (I guess in the shape of the letters). As he read the letters and the words to the lad, the lad would lick the honey off the scroll. He would do a similar ritual with a honey cake and an egg.
The child would see that learning is fun, that traditions are important, and mostly, that God’s Word is sweet – as sweet as honey. This is a direct connection to Ezekiel 3.3 – as he ate the scroll, it was as sweet as honey to him.
Now, I am not advocating our schools should practice this, for I don’t know if I want to put my tongue on a strange chalk board – no matter how sweet the honey. But we should try to show even the youngest child how sweet His Word is for us. How important it is not just to appreciate His Word, but we should take it in – engage in it, meditate on it, really see it as nourishment to our very soul.
So, as we looked yesterday, it is important that we keep engaging in His Word – keep reading it daily. And to this end, I want to challenge you to pick it up daily and read it. And let me give a few strategies on how to approach reading it.
Now when I say read the Word – there are several ways to look at it. I think we should study it intently, rightly dividing, and digging as deep and as intense as possible – language studies, canonical considerations, messianic insights, verse layout, cultural backgrounds, Biblical theology, and so on. But I also think we should just read it. Read it for devotional use, for simple insights and practical application. Don’t get bogged down with intricacies, but a casual approach to grasp the flow and big picture as well.
So let me share a few ways to just open the Word and read it.
First, Pray. Before you even get into the text, ask God for understanding, for an open heart to learn, and for the Spirit to show what He has for today – right now.
Second, take small, manageable bites. Read a chapter, maybe two if they are short. I like Mark – the action is quick, the narrative flows, and the picture of how amazing God is drips from every page.
Third, read regularly. Every day – at the same time – morning, evening, whenever. I go to work early, and just read a chapter or two before I clock in. If you’ve read through the Bible before, use a different translation. I am going through the Tree of Life Version – a Messianic Jewish translation. It is cool to see some insights from a Jewish perspective and I have written notes snd questions in the margin quite regularly.
Fourth, keep a journal. Maybe even use a journaling Bible. These are great – large margins, extra space, etc. I’ve gone through three of them. Write in it – underline things that pop out, write questions, ideas, make note of repeating phrases, etc.
Fifth, read with a friend, partner, or small group. You can go through the questions, see what stuck out to them, and dig deeper together. I’ve done this with Lisa several times. I love her perspective and questions.
Sixth, Go deeper if needed. If something is unclear, dig a little deeper. This can be on your own, in a group, with a mentor, or ask your pastor (and be prepared to get a sermon from him). Note: don’t let the study take away from the daily reading schedule though.
Bottom line it – READ IT.
It does no good sitting on a shelf, or as a never-opened app.
His Word is sweet and nourishing – lick that slate and taste the sweetness of His love letter to you!