Does God’s Word Relate to Today?

The Bible is old. Really old. Scholars estimate that the Bible is between 3,000 and 2,500 years old, give or take a bit. Some of the references are so old we don’t even know what they’re referring to. For example, we don’t know what some precious stones referenced in the Old Testament are in modern names. Some of the cultures that played roles in the stories of the Bible no longer exist; in a few cases, didn’t even leave a trace behind.

Knowing the Bible is that old, it can feel so distant or irrelevant at times. What did these ancient authors know about how it is to live in these modern, technology-driven times?

The first thing to realize about the Bible is that it isn’t meant to be a history book. The Bible is meant to highlight the transformation of people, both individuals and cultures, as they learn to trust and live with the Lord. The Lord is interested in calling His children to Him and the Bible is His guidebook on how we can know Him. God has given us examples of people who have come to know Him and serve Him – not for the purpose of understanding history, but for the purpose of seeing Him more clearly.

God Doesn’t Change

As we read through the Bible, it is important to know that God doesn’t change. He is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting, the Bible says (Psalm 90:2). Cultures change and even go away. Languages go extinct; languages change over time. But God, the one that the Bible is about and by, doesn’t change. Today, His business is salvation just as it was from the moment sin entered the world.

People Don’t Change

There’s an old saying: the only thing that never changes is change itself. People are the best example of this kind of fickleness; they change like the wind. People are people and have been for a very long time – ever since our creation, in fact. It’s easy to start seeing the fickleness in God’s word, but what we’re seeing is the trouble that people cause, not a failure of God’s word.

(If you remember, we are choosing to believe in God’s word as a standard of living and our guide for our choices.)

God’s Plan from the Beginning

The plan God has for salvation through Jesus and His return were planned from the beginning (John 1:1). The Bible keeps a reminder before us that God knows what He’s doing and has known forever. Life can feel random and purposeless when only looked at through our own personal frame of reference. When we take a step back and remember the long-term purpose of God, we can reconnect with the joy of living and find peace in finding our own place and purpose in life.

How Do I Read God’s Word?

Before thinking about study plans or anything like that, let’s talk about the mindset that we have coming into reading God’s word. Do you expect to talk to God about what you’re reading, or do you just read what’s on the page and move on? Do you expect to find treasures that will help and support you through the day, or is it just a task to get through? Expecting to get value from reading the Bible will make a huge difference in what you take out of it.

The most important part of our approach should involve talking to God about what we’re reading. If we don’t feel like we can be open with Him about it, it can stifle our ability to learn from the passage or hear what He’s teaching us. It might be easy to talk to Him about passages we like or our favorite verses. But, what about passages we don’t like? What about passages we don’t understand? Are we just as likely to go to Him and talk to him about those?

One temptation that many of us fall into is the idea that we have to either understand or love every passage that we read. There are passages that I read that I don’t love. There are stories that I wonder about and struggle through. I don’t feel bad about that; I acknowledge it to God and we talk about it. Just because I don’t understand it or like it doesn’t change that it’s scripture and that it’s good for instruction (2 Timothy 3:16).

If there’s something I struggle with, I talk to God about it. In some cases, He’s opened my understanding to see what amazing truths there are to apply to my life. Other times, I leave it with a prayer for understanding and trust that His plan for His word is beyond me and good for all of humankind. That’s OK, too.

Worse than pretending we understand or that we  like a passage is our tendency to ignore what we don’t understand. We quote what we know and stand behind what we understand and we don’t try to include anything other than that. All of God’s word is valuable for us. Yes, all of it. Maybe not in the same way, but we can’t ignore what we don’t understand. Trying to work through difficult passages is important to deepening our relationship with the Lord, no matter how difficult it can feel at times.

Reading the scriptures for ourselves is vital. It is so easy to fall into the habit of letting someone else do the work of digging into the scriptures and telling us how it is. There are many amazing teachers and preachers who are very good at this and bring amazing insight into God’s word. We need to be able to have a handle on what the Bible teaches for ourselves. The more you lean on someone else’s insight, the more of a copy of them you become. That may be a good thing in that they are a good starting point, but we are trying to be made into the image of God, not the image of your favorite Bible teacher.

Keep the power of the Word of God close by, doing your own reading of it. Talk to God about it and find your own understanding. Then, the insights brought by others’ teaching will confirm, support and build up the understanding God is working in your heart.