We live in a culture that is obsessed with speed: how quickly, easily, and cheaply can we accomplish a given task? Sometimes, this can be a reasonable goal, but other times – particularly when it comes to our spiritual lives – speed is the enemy of maturity.
Back when I was in seminary, one of my professors encouraged us to find a book or two of the Bible and make it “our” book – that is to say, to work through it regularly, to try and keep up with most of the current literature/commentaries on it, to study it in the Greek or Hebrew if we were able or to read various English translations if we weren’t, etc. His point was two-fold:
1) We must never think we’ve mastered any book of the Bible, no matter how short or well known – there is always more depth, more application, more challenge in it.
2) We only begin to see some of those intricacies, some of those applications, and some of those ways that highlight Christ if we spend a long period of time in a book. Quite often we discount the fact that certain things in life simply take time and cannot be sped up. Thus, when we read Jonah (for example) through different stages of life, with different challenges on our minds, at growing levels of maturity, we learn much more than if we simply studied it in depth once, early in our Christian walk and then simply assumed we knew what already mattered whenever we came upon it again.
My attention was drawn to a great example of this written by somebody who spent 10+ years in the book of Leviticus. It’s well worth your time to read.
A quick quote from D. A. Carson’s excellent A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers:
“If you know how to pray, consider seeking out someone else and teaching him or her how to pray. By teaching I do not mean set lessons so much as a personal example communicated in a prayer-partner relationship. Such modeling and partnership will lead to the sorts of questions that will invite further sharing and discipleship. After all, it was because Jesus’ disciples observed his prayer life that they sought his instruction in prayer (Luke 11:1).” p. 24
The One True God
3:1-7 Nebuchadnezzar apparently decides that he can shape the future – instead of just being the golden head of the statue (Dan 2), he has created a statue that is gold all the way down and commands that the people of Babylon worship it. All the crowd falls down before this idol…
3:8-18 …except for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They refuse to bow down and this fact is pointed out by their fellow government officials. Nebuchadnezzar himself confronts these young men and offers them a choice: bow down now or die in the furnace. What’s more, Nebuchadnezzar believes that even God Himself cannot rescue these three men from the king’s punishment. The three men respond faithfully: they don’t need to give an answer any different from what their standing has already indicated: they believe that God is able to save them. Whether it is His will to save now or not, they most definitely will not be bowing down to any statue.
3:19-25 Nebuchadnezzar responds with instant rage. His face (his “image” – the same word used for the idol) becomes hateful and he orders that the furnace be heated to an extreme level. Soldiers bind the three Jews and throw them into the fire. Ironically, it is the soldiers following Nebuchadnezzar’s orders who die – not the young men.
3:26-30 The king notices a fourth man in the fire – one who looks divine. When the Jews are let out of the furnace, none of them are burned in the slightest. Even the king must admit that the God of Israel has saved His people. Conclusion: God not only rescues His people, but He literally goes through their trials with them and – in Christ – for them. Our God is worthy of our worship and devotion!