Likely I've read it all in a hop-skip-jump fashion given the fact that I've been in Sunday school, church, and Bible studies since my diaper days. However, when I recently perservered through Leviticus I had to acknowledge I'd probably never read that entire book. Now I have. Whew!
I'm also engaged in an inductive Bible study in Romans with a group of ladies. We spent the first four Wednesdays of the study covering Romans 1. So, to compare the two approaches to Scripture, one is like a loop on the Daytona 500, the other like a pony ride at the county fair.
However, something extremely cool happened recently during our Wednesday morning group. I forgot what we were talking about. Or more specifically whether we were talking about Romans or the Old Testament Scripture I've been reading. No, it wasn't a ministroke. It was the realization that it's all connected, it's all the same story, it's all the same truth.
Here are a few verses from this week's study of Romans 3:
What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. (verses 1-2)Imagine spending months reading about God giving the Israelites the Law while also reading Scripture like this from the New Testament?! It is incredible to see God at work throughout history and communicating through a book penned by more than 40 authors, written over a 1,600 year period from 1500 B.C. (Job) to 95 A.D. (Revelation), but inspired by the one and only Holy Spirit.
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. (verses 19-20)
For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. (verses 29-31)
Even though I know that the Bible is inspired by God and is one story unfolding from Genesis to Revelation, I've always paid attention to the divisions in the book I hold in my hand: books, chapters, and the big one - that white page two-thirds through the book with the words in capital letters: New Testament. Those designations subtly separate the story I'm reading.
In this moment in Bible study, however, I was reminded how it is all one story, HIS story, in a fresh way that stole my breath. What a gift, after years of reading, studying, and learning His Word, to have it surprise me yet again! I echo the writer of Hebrews: "The word of God is alive and active."