Jump start # 2533
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired of God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”
I have been teaching Isaiah. It’s a long book. Sections of it seem slow and repetitive. As I was working on Isaiah a thought occurred to me. Isaiah is sixty-six chapters or 1291 verses. (I looked that up). In contrast, Obadiah, is one chapter and 21 verses. Isaiah contains a little more than 37,000 words. Obadiah, 669 words. The average 30-minute speech (or sermon) is about 4,000 words (unless you talk fast like me). Obadiah is shorter than a 30 minute sermon. In fact, on average, a person speaks about 135 words a minute. Using that as a baseline, Obadiah was about a five minute lesson. Clearly an understanding of MAJOR prophet and MINOR prophet. But why did God do things this way? Why was there two inspired letters to Corinth and not two to Philippi? Why is Isaiah so long and Obadiah so short? Obadiah could have written his message in less than an hour. Isaiah was written over long sections of time, starting with the reign of Uzziah, through Jotham, Ahaz and ending with Hezekiah. We are talking about years. Now, that brings more questions. Did Isaiah deliver his message in pieces during the different time periods?
We have our Bibles as they are, but there are many things about this that just makes us wonder. Didn’t God have more for Obadiah than simply 21 verses? Was that enough? Why did Isaiah have to be so long? Was that necessary?
Now, some thoughts:
First, God always knows what He is doing and He always does what is right. Always. Obadiah is 669 words and Isaiah is 37,000 words because God wanted it that way. Obadiah had a small, limited and specific target audience. Isaiah was dealing with Israel, Judah, Assyria, Babylon and neighboring nations. Isaiah covers a large segment of Biblical history. The value of the book is not in it’s size. Every book of the Bible is necessary and is profitable as our passage today reminds us.
Second, God’s message is not about fairness to those who penned the books. Obadiah got 669 words from the Holy Spirit and Isaiah got 37,000. In our thinking we would have divided this up some and given both about an equal amount from the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t operate the way we think. There was a reason and God used these writers as He saw best.
Third, there is value in each book of the Bible. Our verse tells us that God’s inspired word is profitable. It’s not a waste of time to read. When one reads the Bible, they are diving into the heart and the mind of God. With an open mind, our hearts are touched, challenged, taught and moved by the word of God. Far too many today would rather hear jokes from the preacher than to hear him read Scriptures. Jokes makes us feel good but they don’t do anything for us. God’s word is powerful. It leads to salvation. It opens the gates to freedom. It builds faith. It shores the soul. It enables us to know the Lord, overcome fear, chase worry away and stand firm against Satan. Reading the Bible is a lifelong journey. The guy who carries a worn out Bible likely does not have a worn out heart. He has learned through those wonderful pages the love of God. He knows what’s coming. He knows how to please God. His life is wrapped around the pages of God’s word and that word will lift up when troubles come.
Fourth, every book of the Bible has an immediate purpose and place. God didn’t just pick men to write so He could have a big book. There is no “filler” or unnecessary parts of the Bible. Most of us today are not as strong as we’d like to be when it comes to the prophets. It’s hard to understand Hebrew poetry and prophetic language. It takes some digging. It takes some homework. It takes some effort. Some books, such as Proverbs or James, are so plain and straight forward, one can’t miss the point. The hard thing about those books are not understanding, but the doing.
Fifth, there is a place for outside reference books that brings insight into understanding the times, the words and the culture in which the Bible was written. When we look at the Bible through American eyes, we often miss the point God is trying to make. However, one must realize that external books are written by man and not God and they may or may not always be true. And, we must appreciate that God’s word stands alone. A person living a long time ago, without any of these modern reference books was capable of knowing God’s will. If it takes modern reference books to know God’s will, then for centuries and centuries no one really knew what God was saying. That thought is troublesome and relies too heavily upon modern scholars.
Finally, God’s word is only as good as we use it. A Bible on the shelf that is never opened does one very little good. It is shocking to me in our times that when a death occurs in the family that no one knows a preacher to call. No one in the family worships. No one in the family has any religious ties. So, some guy at work, or some neighbor, who happens to go to some church is called. They want their preacher to come and put mamma in Heaven. They have no idea what the preacher believes. They don’t know if that even matters. A stranger preaching a stranger’s funeral. I’ve been that preacher. Very awkward. Very odd. Very sad. In the families mind, mamma is dancing with Elvis up in Heaven, having a blast and having a cold beer. They don’t know. They have never opened their Bibles up to read.
Our times would be much better if people opened the Bible and followed it. Instead, we have trained professors telling our young people that God didn’t write the Bible. We have modern preachers telling their audiences, that culture changes the Bible. We have political candidates who try to convince the nation that abortion is a wonderful right and choice, and, homosexuality is just the way God made you. And, the foolish nation agrees. Why not? With Bibles closed they will never know.
God’s word is powerful, profitable and pleasing to Him. We must be sure that it is pleasing to us. We do this by knowing it, believing it, following it, trusting it and sharing it.