Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Study-In-A-Box Bible

I almost entitled this post, "Bible Study At Your Fingertips" but then thought better of it. Sounds almost like Bible Study Made Easy. I don't want to do "easy" study of the Scriptures, as that will tend to yield simplistic, shallow results. I'm trying to heed the call to do hard things.

That's why today I've researched and bought the ESV Study Bible, which is designed "to understand the Bible in a deeper way."
This formidable book has 2,752 pages in it, and two million words. But that doesn't scare me, because I still have my text-only pocket Bible, which I actually use more often in my personal devotions. But I'm coming to really appreciate good (think Evangelical, Reformed, and practical) study Bibles. In them the authors have enough humility to lay their verbage right along side God's Word, then let you see if their conclusion flows out of Scripture. It takes a box-sized book to do it, but that's just my speed.

All the "study verbage" is designed to help me, a 21-century American, better understand the nuances of meaning in God's Book (like this Introduction to Ephesians, for example). And that book is my life. It is hear that the Voice of the Spirit talks to me each day and reminds me, encourages me, rebukes me, and affirms me.

Here is a picutre of John 1, to give you an idea what this Study Bible is like.

I LOVE maps, because maps give me a great deal of information, and help me to "stick my feet in the sandals" of a given Biblical character. That always makes Bible study much more interesting, and communicates to my the GRAVITY of what God does with his people. For instance, in Solomon's temple? It is usually hard. It is usually long. It is usually extremely frustrating. But through the refinement of his people, God prepares them for joys and marvels they cannot dream of imagine.

So whether you use the ESV Study Bible or not, keep going back to the Word of God. It (and He) is a stable and unmoving Rock amidst the storms of this life. The older I get, the more I delight in panting like a little nursing baby for the pure milk of the Word. (Apparently so does fellow blogspot blogger Pastor Chris of First Congregational of Waseca, Minnesota.) When I eat it, I grow. The Bible becomes more familiar, but there are always new trails to search out, new depths to discover.

I think God delights in being like that.