6 Tips For Getting Through Those "Boring Books" Of The Bible

Jan 11, 2017 by Will Maule

As 2017 gets under way, many Christians will be seeking to pick up their Bible with greater frequency. Out of these, some bold individuals will even attempt to read the entire Bible in one year. But what about those Old Testament books that seemingly make no relevant sense? Are they really that important, or should we just skip them to make our lives easier? Well, as Christians we believe that every part of the Bible can speak in some profound way, enabled by the Holy Spirit. So, with that in mind, Gregory Coles at Crosswalk gives us 6 key tricks to make it through the Bible's "boring" books. 

1. Ask God what He wants to teach you.
"First, before you even start reading a “boring” book, pray and ask God to reveal Himself to you as you read. Tell Him that you want to learn and grow and be challenged, and then ask Him to accomplish those things through this book. All too often, we read the Bible as if it’s a stagnant book, just black ink on lifeless pages, as if it’s up to us to do the work of understanding and applying it in solitude. But Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the word of God is alive and active.” If the Bible is alive, we need to expect it to act like a living thing, moving and breathing and taking us by surprise. The text of the Bible doesn’t just sit there waiting for us to read and understand by our own power; it speaks back."

2. Look for the big-picture story.
"In Numbers 4, God takes a census of all the Levite clans and commands that the Gershonite clan be in charge of carrying the tabernacle’s curtains. Imagine that: an entire clan of people, dedicated to something as inconsequential as curtains. Boring, right? How could anyone except a fabric salesperson get excited about a lifetime supply of curtains? But when we think about the bigger picture those curtains fit into, the Gershonites’ job doesn’t seem so unimportant anymore. Those curtains made up the boundaries of the tabernacle where God had promised to meet the Israelite people. They marked out the holy space where divinity brushed up against humanity. Without the curtains, there could be no tabernacle; and without the tabernacle, the Jews would lose the presence of God, the very grace that would save them."

3. Focus on the action.
"A lot of the so-called “boring” books are history books. They tell stories of war and love and betrayal and restoration—but they tell these stories the way a history book would, by focusing on dates and names and record-keeping. And many of us, because we’re trained to think that history textbooks are boring, miss out on the fascinating, bizarre, and gripping stories hidden with these books."

4. Notice the repetition.
"One of the worst feelings as a reader is getting stuck in an infinite loop, reading the same sentence over and over. When you read the ceremonial laws in Leviticus, for instance, it’s easy to feel this way. Sentences or paragraphs appear multiple times, word for word, because the oral tradition they were based on would have spoken the same words aloud multiple times to help listeners remember them. Instead of being frustrated by these repetitions, try to notice them and ask what makes them worth repeating. Why were the same precise procedures used for several kinds of sacrifices? Why do phrases like “pure” and “without defect” show up so often in the requirements for offerings given to God?"

5. Skim the lists.
"Look, lists and genealogies and number charts serve an important purpose in Scripture, but that doesn’t mean we need to read them in the same way we read other parts of the Bible. You don’t need to pronounce every name in the genealogy to understand the importance of a kingly lineage pointing toward King Jesus. You don’t need to add up every number in the book of Ezra to know the joy of exiles returning home."

6. Remember why you’re reading.
"Bible-reading doesn’t always have to be fun and easy and exciting. It’s okay if reading some books is hard, if it feels like work instead of rest. But whatever you do, don’t let the work of reading the “boring” books turn your Bible study into a burdensome chore. Keep your reason for reading, your relationship with God, in the forefront of your mind. Remember what it is that makes you so excited to know the Bible better."

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