The Bible

Today I finished reading Malachi and thus I have now read the whole Bible. It has taken me about three and half years which is a lot longer than I thought it would when I set out but that’s okay. I also set out to read it from beginning to end. I didn’t do this either but’s that’s okay too. If the Bible has gotton anything through it is grace. About half way through the old testamant (Chronicles I think) I was really tiring so I thought I would read some new testament instead and ended up reading it all. And then I went back to the Chronicles but got tired again before the prophets so I read the Gospels again. Then I got distracted by “Sabbabth Ecomics” so I read Exodus for a second time and we were reading some of Paul’s letters with my small group so I think they got read twice too. I finally got to the prophets which I finished today. And so the whole Bible.

Now having read the whole Bible for myself I can truly say I love it. I did find some of it boring, some of it offensive and some of it I didn’t understand at all but as a whole I think it’s marvellous. It deals with the biggest questions of life right to the most mundane and trivial parts of human existence.
I still don’t hold entirely conventional views of what the Bible is but the stories, the letters, the prayers, the poems, the dreams, the commands, the guidelines, the prophecies, the people and most importantly Jesus all give a very full picture of the nature of God. A God who can not be boxed into any neat categories at all. It no longer seems at all possible (although I am sure I will continue to do this, see below) to quote one part of the Bible as some kind of proof or answer to who God is or what He wants (and I am saying He because that is all our language allows for but I am not convinced that God is a male).

However, I will say (and no one will be supirsed to hear this from me) that I think the issue of God’s concern for the poor, the oppressed and those suffering or living on the margins in any way is a theme that runs clearly and powerfully throughout the whole Bible. Just one example from Zechariah chapter seven

“There nothing new to say on the subject. Don’t you still have the messages of the earlier prophets from the time when Jerusalem was still a thriving, bustling city. Well the message hasn’t changed: Treat one another justly. Love your neighbours, be compassionate with each other. Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors and the poor. Don’t plot and scheme against one another – that’s evil.

However, the whole Bible, the story of creation; the freeing of a people enslaved; the commands and guidelines given in the desert to a people learning to be the people of God; the prayers of David and the other psalmists; the people chosen to tell the stories; the anger and the desires expressed through the prophets; the life, the stories, the suffering of Jesus; the actions of the early church; the letters of James, Peter, John and even Paul; and the final images of a life to come all point to a God who loves the poor, who calls His people to do the same and even shows them how. I am convinced that there is still poverty, injustice and suffering not because God wills it or is punishing us but simply because we have not lived as we were called, because we have lived for ourselves and not for others and not for God. But I live in hope…

“But when all is said and done God’s temple on the mountain will dominte all mountains. People will stream to it saying, “Come let’s climb God’s mountain. He will teach us how to live.” True teaching will issue from Zion, God’s revelation from Jerusalem. He’ll establish justice in the rabble of the nations and settle disputes in faraway places. They’ll trade in their swords for shovels, their spears for rakes and hoes. Nations will quit fighting each other, quit learning to kill. Each man will sit under his own shade tree, each woman in safety will tend her garden.” Micah chapter four

2 thoughts on “The Bible

  1. I love those quotes – good ones. I probably shouldn’t remind you that Joel purposely contrasts Micah where he says we will need to beat the shovels into spears.
    Not to worry. The Bible is a wonderful mixture of messages about YHWH’s love and YHWH’s desires and the experiences of being human.

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