I’m a liar. I blew it. I’m sorry.
OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. The plan was to write today about alternative Bible reading plans for those of you who may not want to read through the ENTIRE Bible in a year. We’ll get to that soon. (hopefully tomorrow, but I’m not making any promises!)
Before we go any further, I need to point out something that I feel is extremely important.
We all know that Bible reading is something that we should do; it’s maybe even something that we really WANT to do. But for some reason, many of us just don’t do it.
As I think about the reasons why, I realize that a lot of things factor into it. We’re all busy. We’ve got more on our plate than we probably should. Family. Work. Church. Community responsibilities. They can be overwhelming. Some of us just don’t like to read (and maybe even have challenges doing it).
But those things aren’t really the reason why we don’t read our Bible. I believe the number one reason we don’t read our Bible is that we are in a spiritual battle.
Now let me pause for a minute and clarify something. I’m not a “demon behind every bush” kind of guy. I’m of the persuasion that most of the things we blame on Satan are probably not his fault. Satan doesn’t need to work on messing up things for most of us; we do a good enough job on our own.
But I do believe that Satan and his legions know that Scripture is the tool that the Holy Spirit uses to rid us of the mess in our lives and help us grow to spiritual maturity – to conform us to the image of the Messiah. So, when we make that commitment to read our Bible, the Enemy takes notice and does what he can to try to dissuade us. After all, we have a perfect example in the Gospels of Jesus, Himself, using Scripture to defeat Satan.
Three times Satan tempted Jesus. And three times Jesus used Scripture to combat that temptation. So here’s a chance for me to add a little “context” to our conversation. (After all, the name of this blog IS “Context Matters.”
In the Hebrew mind of Jesus’ day, the number three held special significance. When something is mentioned three times, the Jewish sages would recognize that this indicated something had reached it’s fullest capacity; it meant that it was the ultimate expression of whatever was being described three times. Here’s an example.
Isaiah 6 describes a vision the prophet had of the throne room of Heaven. When we read this passage, we hear the angels before the throne of Almighty God declaring, “HOLY! HOLY! HOLY! Is the LORD of Hosts! The whole earth is full of His glory!” Now, our Western Christian mind thinks that the angels actually said the word, “holy,” three different times. And they may have.
But the Jewish sages also understood that the fact that these angels said “holy” three different times meant something so much more than they were being poetic. It meant that God was the ultimate expression of holiness.
That’s what “threes” can mean in Scripture. And Jesus was tempted three times. To me, that means He was tempted to the ultimate level possible. There’s Scriptural precedent for this conclusion:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. – Hebrews 4:15 ESV
But the “threes” don’t end there. Jesus rebuffed these temptations three different times, each time quoting Scripture. What does that mean?
It means the ultimate tool at our disposal for conquering the flesh, the world, and the devil, is the Word of God.
No wonder it’s so hard to keep our commit to reading it. And no wonder it’s so important.