Rosh Hashanah Like a Lion
As I think about for a church building and this new season of ministry, we operate on the school calendar year. We think about ministry as a church, as kids go back to school, we start thinking about ministry here as we go from, well, we think about ministry every day. But the new season of ministry starting in September until the end of August, that’s how we operate on our calendar, just like everyone else does with kids in school. So we think about what our season is as a church, what God has for us this year, and all the change and the way things might look at the end of the year, you know, redoing kids’ area, adding onto the building, creating new ministries, seeing people come unto the Lord, grow in him. Missions, trips, camps, outreach, retreats. There is a lot that goes into church life. But the one thing that we want to make constant is a drive to know Jesus and to make him known.
And I think for us the best place for that journey to really take its steps is in God’s word. God’s word is the way God communicates to us, reveals himself to us and encourages us in our relationship to him. He makes himself known that we could know him and make him known in the world around us.
And this season, as we start into this new school year, we want to begin a new sermon series on the idea of the kingdom. And the reason that we want to start here is because we want to take the opportunity to do really a 30,000 foot view of what the Bible is about, if that’s where God communicates to you and how you can know God, understanding the Bible is important and I recognize when people approach scripture, sometimes it’s intimidating. Where do you start? How in the world does all this fit together with me? What does it even saying? It speaks in ways that I’m not accustomed to.
The Bible can be intimidating, but on the flip side of that, if you think about the beauty of what it is, 66 books, over 40 authors, written on three continents, in three languages, over 1,500 years to write scripture. And one theme. One theme.
And I think about me, I can’t even carry a thought for more than an hour, right? It’s like … And God works in people to write his word, one theme, multiple authors, for 1,500 years.
And what is the Bible? Honestly, it’s God’s love letter to you and in that theme is God builds his kingdom to rule and reign, invites you to be a part of it in relationship with him. Man rebels, God doesn’t give up on us. He pursues us to the point he becomes flesh, gives his life for us. And at the end of Revelation, you see him restoring peace in all things. He makes all things new.
If I gave one word to it, I would just say it’s redemption. It’s God’s redemption for your soul to know and delight in him for all of eternity as he restores peace that was lost through sin.
The Bible paints this beautiful picture that we could know this God who desires to make himself known to us. And so we’re going to start this series about the kingdom and desiring to see what God wants to communicate to us and for our lives in him and through him and sort of as a prelude to the beauty of the Bible this morning what I really want to talk about is the beauty of the Bible.
And that’s what Psalm 119 is. If you’ve ever read this psalm, it is the longest chapter in all of scripture, 176 verses and it’s all about the beauty of scripture.
And the reason I think this is important is the more that you begin to appreciate God’s word, the more you get out of it as you read it. When you can understand it and know how God desires to communicate to you as you dive into it with that sort of appreciation, I think the more you glean from scripture itself.
And so starting this series off in Psalm 119 I think is important for us to the appreciation of the greater picture of what God communicates.
When you think about God’s word, this psalm is nothing but appreciation for the Bible. A love poem. I would say it’s the greatest love poem in scripture, and you think of all the topics God could record for us, the greatest love poem, it’s not about marriage, it’s not about the kids, it’s not about puppies or rainbows or candy canes or unicorns. It’s about the Bible.
When you look at this section, if you were just to thumb through Psalm 119, you’ll see that every, this section is broken up into stanzas: eight verses for every section. And every section starts with a Hebrew letter from A to Z. There’s only 22 Hebrew letters. So if you want to learn the Hebrew alphabet, you can start in verse one, you’ll see each eight section every eight verses broken up by Hebrew letter. And so you can learn the Hebrew alphabet if you want to.
And so this psalm teaches us appreciation for the Bible. But then on top of that, something else that’s interesting is that the Jews would start their new year reading Psalm 119. Now, you think about what that communicates, Psalm 119’s appreciation for God’s word and every year the Jews would celebrate their new year in a day called Rosh Hashanah.
Rosh means head, and how the and asana is year. So the head of the year, every year to start their year, they want to start off with an appreciation of God’s word to understand the beauty of what they possess.
Just for your understanding, Rosh Hashanah for us on a calendar year for us, it lands on September the 30th. Actually for us, it could land on September 29th, because a Jewish day begins at nightfall. So on September 29th at night, Rosh Hashanah starts and Jewish people will read this passage of scripture for the appreciation of his word.
And when you approach God’s word, it can be intimidating, right? But I don’t think God wants it to be that way for us. I think sometimes as Christians, one of the more comical ways to look at God’s word, maybe this is just me, but I remember being early in my Christian faith wanting to know God and not really knowing how to approach the Bible. And so I would open it up and I would do what I call Ouija board Christianity, right?
So that’s like, I don’t really want to promote the Ouija board today, but, but you understand how it works, right? You get this cardboard layout and this little device that you ask a question and some sort of spirit’s supposed to navigate you to the answer, right? Well, sometimes how Christians, I think will approach the Bible in a lack of understanding or intimidation. You’re like, Oh Lord, I need to hear from you today, right? And you’re like, God guide me. And you start thumbing through and then you take your finger and you run it down a spot, and then you read that word and you’re like, so-and-so begat so-and-so. What is, what does this mean for me, Lord? I don’t understand right? You just close the bottom and walk away and you expect that that’s what’s supposed to be the illumination for your soul, right?
I even tried that last night. I was like, okay, let’s give this a shot, and I Googled it, random Bible verse, right, just to see what had happened so I could apply it to my life and and up pops. I wish I could make this up, but this is the first verse and only verse I looked up. Up pops Mark, chapter 14 verse 51 and it says, “And the young man followed Jesus and he was wearing a bed sheet because he was naked underneath.” Lord, help me to apply this, right? Like, God, I’m willing to do whatever. How does that look in your life? I don’t think that’s the way God wants us to understand his word and I think the psalmist wants us to be aware of that. Like if you look at Psalm 119, you can’t help but walk away with this love and reverence and respect for God’s word.
That’s what the author wants us to walk away with. In fact, I would just say this for you. Psalm 119 is 176 verses. There’s no way I’m covering all that today, right? I don’t think that you would even fit through all of that as I cover 176 verses, but I do want to just give us a flyover of the appreciation this psalmist has as we start into this series together. If we walk away from Psalm 119 and we understand every verse, but we don’t love God’s word and in so doing love Jesus, we miss Psalm 119.
So the Jews would begin on on this section of scripture for appreciation for God’s word. Let me, let me just challenge you and encourage you as you think about that.
Couple of things I want you to be aware of as a church. One is every once in a while we bring these Bibles to the church and we sell them, but we don’t sell them to make a profit.
We actually buy them in bulk so we get them cheaper so we can give them as a discount for you. This Bible is one that I read to my kids. If you think about how can I encourage my kids in God’s word for them to see the beauty of God and come to know the Lord, I would encourage you, if you have elementary age kids to grab this Bible, because this Bible takes the big themes of scripture and it ties them all together to Jesus to help us see the grand scheme of the Lord in all things. We’ll have this available next week for $10 bucks. You save a couple bucks if you buy it, get it here rather than an Amazon. I’m not here to make a profit. We just don’t have money to give away and so if you want one, they’ll be here. If you don’t, that’s okay, but these are great Bibles.
Let me just tell you this too. If you’re one that you’re like, you know, I still, even at my age where I’m at right now, I still don’t feel like I understand the Bible. Can I just tell you the best thing to read is that. And that might sound ridiculous, but honestly the way that kids’ story Bibles kind of paint the bigger picture together and especially this. This is a great place to start, so if you read this every night with your kids when they go to bed, great book to read.
The other thing I want to encourage you in, if you go to our app and you click on the bulletin, there is a way to join a group at the very top of the bulletin for reading through the Bible in a year and so starting on September 30th which is Rosh Hashanah when the Jews would start on the new year, we’re going to start this together.
If you want to join, you can. If you don’t, that’s fine. I know some of us are already part of reading through the Bible in your groups. Good. I’m not trying to put more on you, just do what you’re doing and enjoy that, but if you want to enjoy this challenge as well, there’s an option to read through the New Testament and an option to read through the old Testament. If you’re like, I can’t do the Old right now, just want to do the New, I’ve never read through the Bible, that’s a great place to start. If you want to challenge yourself for more, go to option two. We’re doing the reading through the Bible, through The Bible Project. If you’re not familiar with The Bible Project, they create videos that explain sections of scripture as you go through it.
And so what you notice if you join this group is it’ll give you a chapter of the Bible. There’s only 260 chapters in the New Testament, which means if you sign up for that, you’re reading less than a chapter a day. Less than a chapter a day, and every time you start a new book of the Bible, there’ll be a video there to help explain it to you and then some videos that explain major concepts of scripture. So if you want to challenge yourself to know God’s word, I think that’s a good thing? Like, it would be weird to get to heaven one day and you meet James or John and he was like, what’d you think of my book? And you’re like, I never read it. “Jesus, I wrote you a love letter. What’d you think about my love letter?” “I don’t know. I couldn’t even name the books.”
Like, don’t do that. Don’t do that. Like, if you love Jesus, read the love letter he wrote for you. It’s interesting, if you don’t watch the videos, but all you do is the reading in this, in 10 minutes a day, 10 minutes a day is all it takes, you read through the whole Bible. If you just read in two weeks, the amount of time the average American watches television, you could read through the Bible and then some, right? So this is not like a big sacrifice here, right? So God’s word, if you’re interested in wanting to read it and know it, starting September 30th you can join this group. There’s places to ask questions, share things within the context of this. You can familiarize yourself with it. Take a look at it if you would like, but once again, let me get back to Psalm 119.
Psalm 119, one of the things that’s really incredible is not just that it’s in Jewish scripture and how much the Jews appreciate it and Rosh Hashanah, but how much it’s influenced even American history. Charles Spurgeon said that anyone that’s a minister for the gospel should have to remember Psalm 119, I will tell you I don’t have it all memorized. When I went to Bible college, they didn’t make us memorize sections of it, but Psalm 119 was so influential in fact that there was a political leader in Great Britain’s history named William Wilberforce. He became a political leader at 20, he became a Christian at 25. He Lived right near parliament and he would walk to work every day that he worked.
And history tells us when he would walk to work, he would quote Psalm 119 and he gave his life to the care of humanity as a political leader. And he spent his entire political career fighting against slavery. He even joined forces with John Newton, the writer of Amazing Grace and he fought against slavery. Now, the tragedy with William Wilberforce’s life as he died in July 1833. Great Britain didn’t outlaw slavery until the following month, in August of 1833.
But I think at the end of his life, he knew that it was coming. William Wilberforce and the influence of Great Britain became an influencer to the United States political decisions over slavery. Psalm 119 affects us even today without realizing it, because this was the psalm that this man cherished as he walked with the Lord. Psalm 119 is a beautiful section of scripture. If I just read some verses, I’m going to just read these to you and you can get an appreciation for the way the author communicates the beauty of God’s word.
By the way, no one really knows who wrote this psalm. A lot of people think maybe Ezra or David, but no one knows for sure, but listen to the way he says this, “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. With all my heart, I have sought you to not let me wander from your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart that I might not sin against you. Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from your law. The earth is full of your loving kindness, oh Lod, teach me your statutes.”
89: “Forever, oh Lord, your word is settled in heaven.” Verse 97: “How I love your law. It is my meditation all the day. I am exceedingly afflicted, revive me, oh Lord, according to your word, the sum of your word is truth and every one of your righteous ordinances is everlasting. Those who love your law have great peace and nothing causes them to stumble. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”
Throughout this psalm, appreciation for God’s word. In fact, the author refers to God’s word using eight different terms within the context of Psalm 119. He Refers to the Bible as the law, god’s testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, words, ordinances. If you were to even take just that last verse and think, okay, he refers to God’s word as the law of your mouth is better than gold and silver pieces. What does that mean when he references the word law?
By definition, in Hebrew, the word law means a straight edge. You don’t realize how important a straight edge is until you don’t have it, right? Especially when you’re like you’re laying the foundation of something. God forbid you start off crooked.
I think even in our relationship, my wife and I relationship, she saved our marriage a few months ago. And I mean it’s a little bit extreme statement, but let me just tell you how I can hang something on a wall and it will be there until I die. My wife is gifted at understanding how to make a house feel like a home and understanding when things go out of style and what makes something look good somewhere. But she has a great eye for that. And eventually as we get to the frustration of those things, we fight. “Just leave it here.” But one day she came home with a toll that saved our marriage and it was this measuring tool with these things that prod it into the wall with its own level built into it. So you don’t even have to question anymore what the tool says goes in the straight edges there. And it’s wonderful for us. Never again will we have a fight. It’s great. Right?
But that’s what God’s saying about his law. Life’s going to rock you, things are going to press against you. And they’ll want to influence you. Where do you go? How can you hold true?
The psalmist describes his life this way. He says that he battles, he says in the way that he battles and plots against him and slanders and tots and persecutions and afflictions.
Now, this psalmist apparently as a person of influence that he gets to be in the courts of of kings and leaders because in verse 23 he even says that princes and religious leaders malign against him. Think about how difficult that is, when world leaders aren’t standing with you. How do you stand true? The law. God’s word.
It’s this straight edge for our lives. Psalm 119 verse 99 says it like this, “I have more insight than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation,” so of all the teachers in the world, of all of the things that people could say to me, God, it’s your word and meditating on it that directs my life. I understand more than the aids, because I have observed your precepts. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I love that.
That’s one of the more popular phrases of Psalm 105. A lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Maybe the psalmist is saying this, more than knowing every lyric to every Taylor Swift song, maybe God wants you to know the words to his song he sings over you. God wants you to know his word.
Parents, even in your position, God wants your kids to know his word. What a great place to introduce them to that. You think about the way life goes for us as people, like we go through seasons of life and about the time you feel like you’ve mastered a season, your season of life changes and you’re in a new season.
You go from being a teenager, to dating, to college, to careers, to being under a boss, to being a boss, to being married, to being a parent, to discipline your children, to maybe caring for your parents, to retiring, now trying to figure out how to navigate the later years of your own life. Like, every time you start the master a season of life, then that season changes and then you’ve got to start all over and learn what it means to walk with God and all of that. Where do you go? The one thing that remains constant: God’s word.
One of the things that the author of Psalm 119 does that I really enjoys as he describes God’s word. Listen to this, this description in the Bible, he says, it’s righteousness, it’s trustworthiness, it’s truthfulness, it’s faithfulness, it’s unchangeableness, it’s eternality, it’s light, it’s purity, beautiful ways to describe God’s words, to elevate it in our minds, but when you think about these terms, these characteristics he uses about God’s word, isn’t it interesting to think that we can also use the same characteristics to describe God?
That God is righteous. God is truthful and trustworthy, that he’s faithful, he’s unchanging, he’s eternal, he’s light, he’s purity. The reason the psalmist is able to describe God’s word the same way that we would describe God himself is because his word is directly linked to his identity.
As a church, we would say it like this, that because God’s word is so aligned with who God is and his identity being communicated to us, that we believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of scripture. What we mean is every word is true. What’s really cool about God is he inspired this word and every word that he wanted within it is that he didn’t do it contrary to personality, that God’s still used people’s personality to communicate the truth that he wanted, down to the very word.
Like with David, he’s a poet and so David writes a lot of poetry. With Luke, he’s a doctor paying attention to detail, and so he used him to write the Gospel of Luke and Acts.
But God gives us his word communicated truthfully and so the author wants us to see the significance of his word being that way by tying the same characteristics of God to the identity of what God’s word is.
And when I say, look, we believe as a church or our faith rests in the thought that that God’s word was communicated truthfully to us, I realize not everyone may believe that. And I want you to know, I think that’s okay. And the reason I say I think that’s okay is not because I don’t want you to believe that, I think that’s the right thing to believe, but because everyone has to start somewhere.
And maybe, maybe, you’ve heard in your life that the Bible has been mistranslated. How do you know? Maybe someone you trusted said that to you? Like some people say, you know, I believe in Jesus, but I don’t believe in the Bible. I think the Bible has been corrupted. What do you do?
Well, you’ve got to begin the journey somewhere. And I would say for me as a Christian, that was very important to me. Probably the topic I studied more than any other topic as a follower of Jesus is the way we receive God’s word today. Textual criticism, transmission of scripture. I’ve read a ridiculous amount of thousands of pages related to that, but I wanted to know I could really believe in it. And let me just give you a few thoughts to consider as you think about the importance of God’s word and the reflection the psalmist gives on God’s word.
And the number one, when you think about the Old Testament, it’s important to know the Old Testament Jews had very meticulous laws in the way they would write God’s word. In fact, they had certain washing ceremonies that they would go through, rituals before they were even allowed to write pen to paper, God’s word, and to record it. In fact, if they were to record and they were to make a mistake, there were certain laws that required them to trash the document because they wouldn’t allow error to be done in transmission.
When you get to the time of Jesus’s day and the Old Testament is complete, Jesus shows up and he never refers to himself as the the corrector of scripture, where it went wrong. He only refers to himself as the fulfiller of scripture.
In fact, in Matthew, chapter five verses 17 and 18 he says this in verse 17, “I came not to abolish the law,” or correct the law. He came to fulfill it. He says in verse 18, “Not one jot or tittle will pass,” meaning not one small stroke, not one apostrophe or comma will pass until everything is fulfilled.
Jesus even quoted in Mark chapter 12 verse 36, he quoted a writing from David, but rather than said, David said, Jesus, he gives a statement, he says, God said. And he’s recognizing that God supernaturally works through his authors to record exactly what he wants.
And so you get to the Old Testament, Old Testament manuscripts. We have Old Testament manuscripts older than Jesus, literally the Bible Jesus would read from. And so you see the Old Testament established. But what do you do with the New Testament, right? Because the new Testament came after Jesus.
I would say when it comes to the new Testament, the New Testament, today we have over 25,000 manuscripts of the Bible, handwritten manuscripts of scripture. We do not have any original copies of the original writings of the New Testament, but we do have copies of the Bible starting as early as 30 years after the New Testament was completed. 25,000 of them, in fact.
Now I will tell you this, out of the 25,000 manuscripts that we have in scripture, they’re not perfect. Some of them have spelling errors. Some of them reverse word orders. Some of them accidentally leave off entire lines of scripture, because they’re just copying line to line, they accidentally skip. Sometimes there’s people that make notations, that’s a writing scripture, meaning as they’re writing the Bible, you think back in first, second, third centuries, they’re recording scripture. They have someone teaching them about scriptures, they’re recording it, and they realize that verse is little confusing to them. So they write a note off to the sides that make some notations. They’re not thinking. “You know, in 2,000 years from now, someone’s going to have this and look at this.” They’re thinking, this is God’s word and I want this. I want to understand. So they make a notation off to the side.
So when you look in early manuscripts, you see that, but you have 25,000 manuscripts. And so what that means is, you know, and there’s no Oxford dictionary in this day, right? There’s no solidifying of a language down to one fine point, like an Oxford dictionary to refer to.
It’s what you find in certain regions. People might spell words a little bit different. And so they’re not mistakes in scripture. They’re variants, like someone might spell John J-O-N and someone else might spell John J-O-H-N, but it’s still John, right?
And so what scholars do, they do something called textual criticism, where they take all 25,000 manuscripts and they look at them and they can say, look, this person accidentally switched Jesus Christ and Christ Jesus around. The reason we know this is because this manuscript was written in the 10th century and the rest of these manuscripts don’t even have it. So you can see that this person made a variant in the text by switching the name around. So, we have 25,000 manuscripts to compare it to. It’s easy to see where in the transmission of scripture that that happened.
Now, some people think that when it comes to the Bible, the way that we get it today is sort of like the telephone game. Like, first century person gets designated to talk to the second century person and whisper in their ear what to say. And then the second century ends and they designate a person to talk to the third century. You get all the way to the 21st century and the Bible’s got a lot of words in it, man. So how do you know that what we’re saying is correct? Well, I would just say the telephone game has nothing to do with the way transmission of scripture takes place.
We don’t pass this on from generation to generation and get rid of everything previous. You’ve got 25,000 manuscripts that go back through centuries to see what was written. So, the idea of the telephone game doesn’t work.
But here’s the beauty. When it comes to the New Testament, Rome had conquered the known world in multiple languages and people groups. And so when a letter in scripture is written in the New Testament, people would grab a hold of that letter and they would begin to send it out and it would start to be translated into multiple languages, early on in Christianity, so that no one could intentionally corrupt the Bible because it had gone all through Rome in multiple languages. Could you imagine the feat of being able to pervert something like that? It would be impossible.
So, no one could intentionally corrupt the Bible because the Bible went through all of Rome and no one could unintentionally corrupt the Bible because you have thousands of manuscripts. So when you hold God’s word, I think it’s important for us to appreciate its beauty. Began 3,500 years ago, finished little over 1,900 years ago. People have given their lives for other people to possess it.
I think early on in Christianity, fourth century, actually starting in the first century to fourth century, 250 years of Christianity, 125 of them, Christians were persecuted.
The last emperor before Christianity was legalized under Constantine was a man by the name of Diocletian. Diocletian’s on record wanting to wipe Christianity off the face of the earth and destroy every Bible.
In Christianity, today, 25,000 manuscripts remain. People gave their lives to hold it. Think about even in English to hold the Bible. We’re just a couple of weeks away from the anniversary of of this man’s death, William Tyndale.
William Tyndale represents a group of Christians in these centuries that wanted people to possess God’s word, and Tyndale believed he wanted people to possess God’s word in their own language and he gave his life to write the Bible in the English language. People like John Wycliffe, John Haas, William Tyndale. William Tyndale was strangled alive, burned to the stake, and his ashes were scattered. Just so you could have the Bible in English.
Out of this group of people, there was a group that went to Geneva, Switzerland. They ended up translating the Bible into English and it’s called the Geneva Bible. It’s the first study Bible ever written. Those people in Geneva, Switzerland were the ones that came across the Atlantic ocean to found America today. Pilgrims and Puritans, Geneva Bible.
America wasn’t even founded on the King James, believe it or not, it was founded on the Geneva Bible, but it was more importantly founded on the thought that God’s word was written for God’s people and you should be able to read it and understand it and know him.
And the psalmist, just like throughout history where Christians have given their lives, is communicating the beauty of God’s word so that we don’t miss it. Listen to this. Psalm 119 verse 72, “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Verse 89: “Forever, your word is established in heaven.”
And you think about this, the vast appreciation of Psalm 119. I want to hone in on just one thought, one thought for us that I think really draws what the author desires for our lives as we read through a psalm like this.
When you think about God’s word and and understanding and appreciating it, now, some Christians will read Psalm 119 and get fired up and in the end they’ll get so fired up, that we’ll mis-apply our excitement. Meaning sometimes Christians will get so fired up about the Bible that they have a personal relationship with the Bible, but not Jesus. It’s possible to love Bible so much that you just want to know it, but you really don’t ever know God.
We can read the Bible like it’s a requirement, but not really even encounter God. When Christians emphasize the Bible, sometimes we quickly follow that phrase like in a love for the Bible, “Come on and join my Bible study,” right?
“Everyone, we should know the Bible. God wrote us the Bible. It’s a love letter and we love God and we want to know him, so come join my Bible study.”
Here’s an interesting idea to ponder. Did you know the Bible rarely uses the word study? In fact, one of the most famous verses people often quote in referring to study, 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show yourself approved. A workman need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” That’s the way that King James says it.
But did you know the word study there is actually a poor translation of the Greek? What it really says is be diligent to show yourself approved before the Lord. That’s not the word study at all.
In fact, Psalm 119 doesn’t even use the word study. Rather, Psalm 119 wants to emphasize something for us in a different way, and I want to encourage this in this because just consider this for a minute. First three centuries of Christianity, there was no Bible. Christians had scrolls. The Bible had been written, right? Christians had scrolls, they had 66 scrolls, but no one carried around the Bible in a book. The Bible had been scattered all over in the Roman Empire. But if you are fortunate to even have the majority of those books, not all of them, you were considered lucky or fortunate.
It wasn’t until the fourth century, they compiled all the books into one location. I think Christians read from the Bible. I think Christians may have had all the copies of scripture, but it wasn’t universally recognized until the fourth century. But when you study Christianity in the first three centuries, they had an incredible impact on this world, maybe more so than any other time in history. How do they do that? They weren’t in Bible study. What did they do? I think the psalm emphasizes it throughout his work rather than just simply say study I think what the psalmist wants our hearts to do is this. Meditate and delight, meditate and delight.
These words aren’t about just studying God’s word, so you can be really smart and impress people with your Bible trivia. These words are encouraged to let God’s word rest deeper in your soul than just simply by studying. Meditate and delight.
When you think about delighting, delighting sees God’s word as a gift, not a guilt. So when I said in the beginning, hey, if you’re interested in joining a group that’s going to read through the Bible in a year, can I tell you what I don’t want? I don’t want you to feel guilt to do that. I want you to be delighted that you have opportunity to do that.
This word delight just reminds us that God’s word is a gift and he wants you to know, he wants you to know him, and he cares about you. He wants to be a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. This is not necessarily an obligation, this is a privilege that throughout the centuries people have given their life for so that you could have an opportunity today to go, “Nah,” or to really love it and delight in it.
When you appreciate it, you get more from it. And so when you go to open the pages because you’re so delighted, you have this angst want to see what it’s going to communicate to you that day. Not to just say I read it so I can say I read it because I’m really smart. I know the Bible. It’s not about that.
The Bible’s given so that you can know him. The other thought with it is to meditate. When the psalmist writes about delighting and meditating, oftentimes he uses this and following verses like you see verse 15 meditate, but verse 16 delight, verse 23 meditate. Verse 24 delight. These things are interconnected with each other that the idea of you wanting to meditate is because you’re delighting in it. So when you think about meditation, what does that mean? You could read the Bible every day but never let it read you.
And this idea of meditation is allowing God’s word in us and so that it will transform us and so, the question I think we should ask them is how do you meditate? Like, there’s this Eastern thought of meditation where you empty yourself, but I think the biblical thought of meditation is filling you up. It’s not about emptying you, it’s about filling you with who God is.
One of the beautiful passages of scripture, if I just read you a couple of these, Psalm 119, 15 and 16, look at these back-to-back. “I will meditate on your precepts and regard your ways. I shall delight in your statutes? I shall not forget your word.”
One verse I think really helps me and hopefully you understand what meditation is like in scripture. Isaiah 31 verse four says this, “For thus sayeth the Lord to me as the lion or the young lion growls over his prey.” Let me just, we’ll end it right there. There’s some more thought to this verse, but you see God communicating and as God communicates, it says as a lion or a young lion over his prey. He’s growling, or some translations will say he is roaring. Now, what does that have to do with meditation? Well, here it is. That word growl is the same Hebrew word for meditation.
When you think about when a lion roars, it’s not just a sound that comes out of his mouth. From the depth of his soul, his body reverberates in that power, to the point the roar of a lion can be heard miles away. His core shakes over this roar.
The idea of meditation becomes a much more vivid picture that way, right? From the depth of who you are, it’s not just simply attaching it to your mind, but in the core of your being. His word is life and it becomes your life, and when you reverberate, God’s word comes out. That’s meditation.
For a Christian, I think it looks like this. When you open up God’s word, you don’t read it just to say you read it. You open up God’s word and say, God, I’m not going to put it down until I feel blessed. It’s not about accomplishing a set amount of reading. It’s about his power being made known in your life and it transforming who you are.
As we go through this story together, I want the Bible to come alive in our life to not it not be something that intimidates us, but transforms us, that helps us grow in our love and appreciation for the way God desires to make himself known in our lives.
My hope, guys, really is that we Rosh Hashanah, let me say it like this, Rosh Hashanah like a lion. That’s my desire for us this year as a church, as we think about all that the Lord has for us, that we bring in this new year, this new season of life as an opportunity to reset, to know God and from the core of who we are reverberate his glory in our being.