A new year is upon us and with it comes a whole host of commitments that we, deep down inside, never intend on keeping. Everything from gym memberships and diet plans to improving relationships and yes…a better connection with God. When we focus on our relationship with God, we can’t escape our desire to read more of His Word. With 66 books, an Old and New Testament and some pretty sketchy chapters in Numbers and Leviticus, it can be overwhelming.
Recently I participated in an event called “Speak the Word Live” where a group of people commits to reading all the way through the Bible in a few days. It goes from dusk till dawn and there are people around the clock that show up for this event in downtown San Antonio. I’ll get real with you and say I literally prayed that I wouldn’t get Leviticus or Numbers. Guess what I got. True. I was part of a lucky team that got to read about skin sores and who begat who. Joy.
As I made my way through, I realized that I was a little bit nervous when I got to sections that talked about condemnation and the “curses” that were promised through the Mosaic Covenant. I looked around sheepishly when it talked about the severe consequences of not obeying God’s law. As I read the passages, I looked at the crowds of people that no doubt included individuals that couldn’t give a rip about pleasing God or who have been burned by the church in one way or another.
Then it struck me. We couldn’t know the grace of God without knowing about His justice first. We can’t be awestruck by His love until we know how great it really is. The thing that I love most about the Bible is that it is a book of hope! We sometimes get mired in the sections of Scripture that talk about God’s wrath, which is intense (Heb 10:31) and a part of God’s character, but we quickly forget that without those passages, we can’t truly understand His love and acceptance of us despite our sin (Romans 5:8).