Scripture Saturday: Importance of Bible Study (Prv 28:9)
I’ve heard that some folks benefit from a regimented blogging schedule, so I thought I’d give it a shot to see if it helps me. And that means I will now introduce two new features. If I blog nothing else in the course of a week, I will blog the two features.
The first is Contradiction Tuesday, where I will detail a perceived contradiction in the Bible. I’ll take requests for this series from skeptics and believers alike — e-mail me. It will begin next Tuesday; I didn’t have time to do one this week.
On a side note, I’m thinking of adding Anti-Testimony Wednesday sometime in the future. I would critique the latest “Why I’m not a Christian” bit from ex-Christian.net, with a private offer to the poster to defend him or herself here. Since they don’t like their unbelief challenged on the site, this would be playing by their rules. After all, the anti-testimony is posted publicly so it’s unrealistic to think that someone won’t pick it up and challenge it somewhere.
The series beginning today is Scripture Saturday. What better way to kick off Scripture Saturday than with a verse on the importance of studying Scripture?
If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (Prv 28:9)
Strongly worded. If a person stops studying God’s Law, then that person’s prayer is an abomination. An abomination! That’s the strongest way God can revile something. And here, God is saying that he will revile a person’s prayers if that person refuses to hear God!
Brief context for the example we’ll use. The prophet Zechariah talks of the people’s spiritual transformation following the Babylonian Exile. He’s calling for folks to get right with God. Entering the Second Temple Era is the perfect backdrop to illustrate this short snippet from Proverbs.
The people ask Zechariah if they should continue to set aside one month for weeping and fasting now that the Lord has delivered them. And God answered:
Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted?And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?Were not these the words that the LORD proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous, with her cities around her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited? (Zech 7:5-7)
In other words, when you did this stuff, who was it for? God asks us to examine our motivations for doing things. God isn’t about creating a religion, but a relationship. Not a series of rituals, but a dynamic give-and-take relationship. But the people seem content with just a set of laws.
It’s kind of pointless to set aside a month of mourning when God has delivered the people from their enemies. So this is what he asks instead:
Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart (Zech 7:9-10).
Simple. Just do the right things. Judge fairly, show kindness and mercy, don’t take advantage of the easy targets, and don’t even plot evil deeds. Christians can read a lot of similar exhortations from Paul and other Apostles in the New Testament epistles.
Do the people do those simple things? Not exactly:
But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts.”As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the LORD of hosts. . . . (Zech 7:11-13)
The people disobeyed God’s simple request to be kind to one another. So God’s anger stirred against the people, and he would not listen to their cries anymore.
So it is with us today. There are no prophets, there are no direct mouthpieces from heaven down to earth. We only have Scripture, which we must immerse ourselves in daily, study, and (more than all of that) understand. When we do this, and apply the simple, transformative messages to our daily lives, then our prayers won’t be an abomination to God.
Posted on December 3, 2011, in Bible Thoughts, Religion, Scripture Saturday, Sin and tagged Bible, Christianity, divine grace, divine justice, divine mercy, God, Prayers, Religion and Spirituality, Sin. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.