The4thDave Reads: …the Pentateuch?

Whew. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

As I noted in my last post (last…uh…year), my reading goals for 2018 are two-fold: reading only physical books that I owned as of 12/31/17, and to write up a review or reflection for every book I finish in 2018. Good plan, right? It *should* produce steady blog content, and it helps step up the fight against tsundoku–not that it would prevent me from collecting more books, but that it would force me to prioritize the books I already own.

Things haven’t gone quite as expected. By this time last year, I had already read 5 or 6 books. But this year, for whatever reason, I’ve really been struggling to read finish books. Oh, I have 5 books that I’m currently “reading” but none of them consistently. I’m like a literary hummingbird–I’ll get 50 or 100 pages into a book, lose interest, and jump to something else. I’m struggling to stick with anything heavier than light fiction, so it’s becoming work to press on through much of anything.

As it happens, the only book I’ve actually completed cover-to-cover so far this year is the Pentateuch–specifically, the first volume of the ESV Reader’s Bible 6-volume set. (A very generous Christmas gift from Mrs. 4thDave.) Since it was a complete cover-to-cover read (I finished it in mid-January), I’m counting it. SO here I am, with some thoughts–not a review, just some reaction.

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For those who may not know, I’m a Christian. (If you didn’t know that, it means you’re new here–welcome!) This means I believe the Bible is infallible, meaning it makes no mistakes; that it’s inerrant, entirely without error; that it is authoritative, because it is God-breathed and carries the weight of His commands; and that it is completely sufficient for everything it intends to direct and describe (meaning it won’t tell me how to fix a car, but it will tell me how to live with integrity before God and others).

Any honest reader (let alone student) of Scripture will admit that some parts of the Bible are a bit more challenging to read and understand. There’s a reason that few churches are advertising sermon series through the book of Deuteronomy — which is a shame, because there’s great stuff in Deuteronomy. Because of this, I wonder how many church-going Christians have ever really read through the sections of the Bible that are more difficult to wrestle through, like the Old Testament Law or the less-Christmasy passages in the Prophets. I have to admit that my familiarity with some of these passages and books is passing at best. There are definitely sections of the Old Testament that I’ve never actually read before.

My hope is to change this in the next few months by sitting for up to 30 minutes a day and just reading–not studying, not analyzing, just drinking it in. I try to pray as I begin that the Holy Spirit would “open my eyes to behold wonderous things in His law” (Psalm 119:18). And then I just read, seeking to learn and understand.

Some sections are easy, some sections are challenging or even a bit offensive, but I always approach the text with the firmly-held conviction that all of it is true, trustworthy, reliable, and authoritative. And that has made all the difference in how I read even the hard parts of the Old Testament.

My reading this year has reminded me of many things, but two of the most clearly demonstrated themes in my reading thusfar are: 1) God is always faithful to His word, even if man is faithless to his; and 2) all of God’s purposes come to be, despite the conniving and scheming of men. These truths have been a comfort to me already this year.

If you haven’t read through the five books of Moses in a while, I would encourage you to do so. Just set some time aside, take up the Bible, and read. Read with an open and submissive heart, trusting that the loving and sovereign God of the Bible will teach you through His Spirit. And be encouraged that the God who controls all things will never break His promises to His people.

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