In this unit we shall be dealing with the purposes of Bible reading and what should inform and motivate the Bible reader. Under this heading we shall look at the following questions/points:What does it mean to “read” the Bible? Scriptural Commands to Bible reading The individual’s need for Bible reading Who should read the Bible? Some benefits of Bible reading. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “READ” THE BIBLE?
Reading is an act of using the eyes and mind to visualize and draw meaning out of written or printed material. This may involve calling out the words audibly in such a way that it makes sense to both the reader and the listener. It may also be done silently in which case only the eyes and mind of an individual are in use.
Reading can be seen in various ways, depending on how it is being done, such as enumerated in an Encarta Dictionary, thus:
- peruse: scan, glance at, look at, study, look through, look over, skim, browse, leaf through, flick through, inspect, examine, go through, decipher, figure out, make sense of; or
- recite: read out, deliver, speak, declaim, reel off, orate (formal), state.
The Bible is a great Book containing the Word of God for everybody created by God. Bible reading simply means using the eyes and the mind to get meaning from the Word of God. It is a very rewarding spiritual exercise which enhances the growth and overall well-being of the believer. It involves both the intellect and the person. It is an exercise highly recommended and mightily blessed by God.
SCRIPTURAL COMMANDS TO BIBLE READING
The Bible has a lot of commands from God that we need to read His Words at all times and for several obvious reasons. The need for Bible reading is an absolute case for anyone known and claimed to be created by God, much more for those who are born of God (Christians). We shall look at only a few of such instructions/commands.
18 “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites.
19 “And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes,
Whatever position you are in, that is your throne; that is your kingdom. Wherever God has placed you in life, you are subject to His instructions to keep and obey them. In this Scripture therefore, God expects every king in his own right, every human created by God to rule over the earth, to own (write out – or obtain/purchase – for himself) a copy of the Holy Scriptures. This done, we are then commanded to read it all the days of our lives, considering the accompanying blessings.
“Search from the book of the LORD, and read:
This is a command to search the scriptures, to seek out from the Book. The implication of this statement is in two dimensions, namely, seek out
(1) By paying a price to obtain and own a copy of the Scripture, and
(2) By looking for relevant portions for specific situations and reading them.
In whatever dimension you view it, you are commanded to read the scripture. It is not an optional exercise. Buy and own a copy of the Holy Bible in at least one or more translation of your choice and cultivate the habit of searching/reading it every day (all the days of your life).
But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:
The question “Have you not read?” which is repeated here portrays the fact that it is imperative for everyone to be reading the Scripture. If you do not read, you will miss out on a lot of information God has for you. He expects us all to acquaint ourselves with all the Scripture and so be enlightened. See also Matthew 19:4, where our Lord Jesus still asked the question again.
Someone described the BIBLE as Blessed Information Bringing Life Eternal. If you fail to gather this Blessed Information, then you are not ready for the Eternal Life that it brings.
PROVERBS 4: 21
Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart;
What relationship has the Word with our eyes, except reading? We should not let God’s word depart from our eyes is an instruction to constantly, consistently, persistently read (look at) the Word.
Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodicean, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
The word “when” is a conditional adverb of time, as well as a conjunction, relating an event with the time it occurs. However, this conditional word is different from its counterpart “if” in that it portrays certainty while “if” is uncertain. If I say “I’ll be there when you call me”, it is different from “I’ll be there if you call me”. The first statement shows it is certain that you will call me, but only when you decide to, while the second shows you may not even call me, but supposing you do, I will be there. So when Jesus told His disciples, “When this Epistle is read” He meant that it was certain the Epistle would be read; it was not a matter of choice whether they would like to read it, but that the only uncertainty was the time of reading. He was saying in effect “Any time you read ….”
Another implication of the above Scripture is that it is imperative and instructive for the Word of God to be read in gatherings: “When … is read among you”, and “… see that it is read in the Church….”
Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, when He went into the Synagogue, stood up and read from the Scripture in the book of the Prophet Isaiah. This shows that the reading of the Scripture was a regular feature in the Synagogue in those days.
Therefore we are instructed/commanded to read the Bible in our Churches, Fellowships, Social gatherings, Political meetings, in Schools and all educational institutions, in Offices and work places, and wherever there is a gathering of people for any purpose.
¶ Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
God has pronounced blessings, undefined blessings, unrestricted blessings, boundless blessings, infinite blessings to those who read His Word, as well as to those who hear, etc. This is to say, you need to read God’s Word both for yourself and to those who cannot read so that they would equally hear and get blessed. The blessing pronounced here is not abstract but comes directly from the Word that is being read. As you read you come across God’s promises, instructions and commands that carry the blessings. So blessed are you when you read, and to those who cannot read you will be blessed as you read to them, giving them the chance to get their own portion of the blessing.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
9 Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it.
10 Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe.
1 ¶ Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.”
2 So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll.
3 And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.
“…Shall not depart from your mouth” and “Son of man eat what you find; eat this scroll”; What has one got to do with the mouth on a book? This is a command that we read the Book at all times, whether silently or audibly. We should not let it depart or be missing from our mouth. We should not while away idle moments, but occupy them in reading the Word.
Again, what did Ezekiel find that he was supposed to eat? “The Scroll of a book written on the inside and on the outside”. Eat the scroll? Eat the book? Like bread or fish? Here lies the indication of the importance of reading the Book. You take it as your necessary food and snack. Physical food produces and enhances physical energy, growth and health. So does the Word of God to the spirit of man. You cannot afford spiritual fasting/starving and malnutrition. You need the indispensable nourishment that is from the Word for your spirit man. Take it; eat it; do not despise or neglect it!