The Breath of Life
We were made from dust, and we will return to dust. What animates us is “the breath of life.” God breathed life into us. In the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible, God creates people, and in chapter two the process is personalized:
“The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature,” (Genesis 2:7).
Many, many years later, the Apostle Paul told his young protégé, Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed,” (2 Timothy 3:16). In other words, the same breath that transformed so much dust into a living, breathing human being, transformed the Bible from just an ancient book into the Scriptures – the very words of God. But if these are the words of God, why are they so hard to understand?
“It Ain’t Easy”
The Apostle Peter claimed the Bible was inspired (2 Peter 1:21), but he – an inspired apostle – also made this observation about Paul’s writings: “There are some things in them that are hard to understand, … “(2 Peter 3:15, 16).
Why is the Bible so hard to understand? First, it was written a long, long time ago, in a place very far away, in a culture that is very different from our own. Even the names are difficult to pronounce!
Second, we are often listening to just one side of a conversation. It can be like playing the game show, Jeopardy! “Here is the answer; what is the question?”
Finally, the Bible is designed for meditation (Psalm 1).
So what is the key?
Unlocking the treasures of the Bible is not impossible, but it does require work. Here are some keys:
Find a good teacher. Do you remember the struggle the Ethiopian had? (Acts 8:26 ff.) What a blessing it was to meet Philipp!
Use a good translation. Have you read about Ezra the Scribe? (Nehemiah 8:8) They not only read the Scriptures, but there were also people present who gave the sense of the text.
- Use good helps. Make the Bible come alive! Use good helps, including:
- Choose a good introduction.
- Use good maps.
- Refer to a good Bible dictionary or encyclopedia.
- Judiciously use a commentary – after you have done your study!
- Ask good questions.
- Pray, pray, pray!