"Study to shew thyself approved unto God…."
II Timothy 2: 15
King James Version
"Study" – In Greek means to make an effort, to be earnest and diligent.
"God's Golden Thread"
"Once we truly grasp the message of the New Testament, it is impossible to read the Old Testament again without seeing Christ on every page, in every story, foreshadowed or anticipated in every event and narrative. The Bible must be read as a whole, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation, letting promise and fulfillment guide our expectations for what we will find there."
Have I found God's "golden thread" as I have studied His Word?
"When you read God's Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, "It is talking to me, and about me."
"The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts."
For the last two weeks we wandered in the desert with the children of Israel trapped by Pharaoh's army and the Red Sea.
Yesterday, we celebrated the joy of deliverance as we danced on the banks of the Red Sea, having found out that God leads us through our difficulties. Praise His name!
Today we are going to tackle some very tough issues that some people think the Bible is silent about. WRONG! The Bible is filled with so many treasures if we will only dig for them.
As we continue our study of all the women in the Bible, you might think our time in Exodus is over, and in fact, that's what I thought, as well. Exodus 18 contains the last named woman in the book – Zipporah -- and we spent one week studying her life.
My first inclination was to move on! But as I prayed and studied, the words, "Not so fast," kept coming to my mind. So I continued reading each chapter and verse from Exodus 19 to Exodus 40, and as I did I looked for God's "golden thread." What is this "golden thread?" It is the love of God expressed from Genesis to Revelation. A love that created a perfect world for Adam and Eve. A love that brought the King of the Universe to the Eden home to communicate in the "cool of the evening" with His precious children. A love that didn't abandon His wayward children when they decided to use the greatest gift their Father had given them – their power of choice – to rebel against their Creator and follow the seduction of the serpent, the devil, Lucifer. It is also a love that gave the promised hope of a Redeemer. A love that with near total evil, saved Noah and His family. A love that chose to call Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A love that we found over the last few weeks delivered God's children from 400 years of Egyptian slavery. This is the golden thread woven into every verse, every chapter, every story and every promise from Genesis to Revelation. It is the love of a God who will do anything to draw His children back to Him.
And this is why I want to tackle some of the tough topics that we often skip over because we think some parts of the Bible are too confusing, too difficult and too boring for us to understand. Tom Perry penned these words: "The Scriptures that are never read, will never help us."
Unfortunately, for many years, some of those "dry" places in the Bible became the areas I stayed out of. I thought a book as woeful as Lamentations needed to be avoided, yet now, one of my most favorite Bible passages is Lamentations 3: 20-26, "The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in Him." Tucked in a book of weeping and wailing, is more hope than my heart can contain, "Great is Thy faithfulness."
What did I find in Exodus, Chapters 19-40, that expands on the love of God we find woven like a golden thread throughout Scripture? Well, I'll tell you!
For the next few days we are going to study what the headline on my Bible calls "Divers laws and ordinances." Now, before you begin to yawn and think, "How boring," I want to assure you that within these "laws and ordinances" God gave instructions on how He wanted His daughters to be treated. That's right! And I believe some of the abusive treatment of women down through the ages would not have happened had some of the so-called boring parts of Scripture not been overlooked. What's more, to those who somehow believe the Old Testament rules and laws were done away with by Jesus, I'd like to remind all of us of the words of Jesus, Himself, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill," (Matthew 5: 17, K.J.V.) If we study this text by looking at the Greek meaning of "destroy" and "fulfill," we'll note that the word destroy means "defense." The word "fulfill" means to "make complete" or "fully preach." If we combine these two ideas, Jesus said, "I've come to defend the words of my Father, to defend the truth about God so that through my life, God's truth will be "fully preached." And to underline this point, on the night of the Last Supper, when Jesus gathered with His dearest earthly friends, in words of tender love, He reminded them, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He (she) that hath seen me hath seen the Father…." (John 14: 9, K.J.V.) Isn't this beautiful? And it shows you and me how our Heavenly Father's longing for His daughters to be treated with love, respect, and dignity is something that isn't found in one obscure text here or there in the Bible. It is a desire God had the moment He created Eve, the life-giving mother, and it was so important to God that His daughters be treated as the comforting and loving-hearted women He created us to be, that He gave divers laws and ordinances back in Exodus to underscore the way He treated His girls and the way He always wanted them to be treated.
Tomorrow we are going to find out what God means when He says: "Don't Disrespect My Daughters." Then we will look at "Family Matters" -- the way God instructs us to treat those closest to us. And our next topic is the "Price of Enticement." Finally, we will look at what God has to say about our treatment of "Strangers, Widows, and Children."
The following week, we will conclude our study in Exodus with God's characteristics of a "Wise-Hearted Woman." I didn't know this information was in Exodus but it is. Just like a lot of other truth that is easy to skip over if we don't choose to feast on all of the Word.
This past week, one of our neighbors, Phil, who is a superb, gourmet chef, asked Jim and me if we would like to go with him and his wife, Adrianne, for dinner at one of their favorite restaurants. Jim and I rarely eat out and so this was a special treat. Since Phil knew the owner of the restaurant, he set up the entire meal, carefully choosing each course ahead of time. When the salad was served to me, the server informed us that it contained "hearts of palm" and pistachio nuts – neither of which I am fond of. Out of courtesy to our dear host I took a bite and whew! The dressing on the salad made all my tastebuds stand on end! I wondered how I would ever eat the food, but I plowed ahead. And surprise of surprises, as I ate bite after bite, the flavors began to mesh together to the point that this was one of the highlights of the meal and I'm going to try to use some of these ingredients in my own salads at home. Now just think, if I had stopped after one bite, I would have missed out on the flavors that came together as I ate the whole, entire salad.
This experience proved to be a great lesson to me as I thought of jumping over some of the parts of the Bible that after one bite seem unappealing, boring or downrightly scary! Over and over God calls us to study His Word, to meditate on His Word, to fill ourselves with His Word – all of it! Not one text here or there to try to prove our point. He wants us to digest His Word from beginning to end, and what nourishment we will find. I love the words of one of my favorite preachers from long ago, Charles Spurgeon. "The more you read the Bible, and the more you meditate upon it, the more you will be astonished by it." And girls, this includes divers laws and ordinances!
"I have read through the entire Bible many times. I now make it my practice to go through it once a year; I pity the person that cannot find in it a rich supply of thought, and of rules for his or her conduct. It fits a person for life – it prepares them for death."
"I began to read the Holy Scriptures upon my knees, laying aside all other books, and praying over, if possible, every line and word. This proved meat indeed and drink indeed to my soul. I daily received fresh life, light and power from above."
"Father, we praise you for the gift of words: the words we hear and read, the words we speak and write. As we handle and use the Holy Scriptures, make us more sensitive to what they say, more appreciative of the life and truth in these pages, and of the love and courage of those who wrote them; and open our ears to your voice, and our lives to yourself; through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus