There is no debate over the need to be people of the Scriptures. There is ample biblical data to demonstrate this clear teaching. We are providing practical suggestions for the inclusion of devotional time with the Word of God. Let us incorporate time with Scripture into our daily routine.
Centuries ago, a prophet by the name of Hosea lamented over the Hebrew people and their ignorance of God‟s word. He said that their calamity was a direct result of their lack of God-revealed-knowledge (Hos. 4.1-7.16). To refrain from a study of the Bible is tantamount to a rejection of God, and also may incur rejection of providential protection.
Hosea speaks on behalf of the Creator in the following way:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hos. 4.6)
As Jesus would later quote, the Lord desired Israel‟s steadfast love, reflected in their possession and application of the knowledge of God (Hos. 6.6; cf. Matt. 9.13, 12.7). Instead, the Lord received religious deviance (i.e. idolatry, covenantal infractions, etc.) grounded in ignorance and the rejection of God‟s word.
As a result, God‟s warnings of wrath went unheeded, and the Northern Kingdom (Israel and Ephraim) was conquered in 722 B.C. by Assyria, and the Southern Kingdom (Judah) was overcome and their citizenry harvested three times.
- 606 B.C.: Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jehoiakim and took the upper class of Judah and the spoils of war (2 Chron. 36.6-7).
- 597 B.C.: Nebuchadnezzar came again and completed the plunder begun a decade prior to this invasion (2 Kings 24.14-16).
- 586 B.C.: Babylonians burned Jerusalem and leveled the walls, and finalized any deportation desires it had.
Both Israel and Judah suffered at their own hands, because they did not commit themselves to the teaching of God. Hosea spoke of this calamity in his prophetic utterances found in Hosea 5.5-7:
The pride of Israel testifies to his face; Israel and Ephraim shall stumble in his guilt; Judah also shall stumble with them. With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find him; he has withdrawn from them. They have dealt faithlessly with the Lord; for they have borne alien children. Now the new moon shall devour them with their fields.
The lesson here is obvious: there is no substitute for actually opening a biblical book in order to read and to study it, in order to apply the message God embedded within its pages.
Let us therefore make time to add Bible reading to our daily schedule. And here are some practical places to introduce Bible reading:
(1) Adjust your sleep time
Wake up a little earlier (Or, go to bed a little later) to make time for a 5-10 minute reading or study. You would be amazed how much can be accomplished by a consistent dose – however small.
(2) One page at a time
If you are a commuter (bus, train, taxi, carpool, etc.) and can read while in motion, try squeezing a paragraph in. Make a photocopy of a page or two out of the Bible, and slip it in your paperwork. Then when you are done reading it, you can give it away or discard it somehow (trash, recycle at office, etc.).
(3) Flash cards
These can be great tools at learning wonderful statements in the Bible. A list could be generated of significant passages, and then every night before bed one or two verses can be copied down onto a card or two. The next day, the cards are available to commit to your memory. The book of Proverbs lends itself quite well to this type of learning project.
(4) Family Bible Time
Above all else, make Bible reading time a family project of Divine learning. God required this of physical Israel:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6.4-9)
To be sure, there are other ways to incorporate Bible reading into a person‟s schedule and routine, but these are provided to get your “thinking caps” charged up.
- Hosea‟s ministry is probably fixed between 760-710 B.C., as can be derived from Hosea 1.1 and the list of Hebrew Kings serving as historical benchmarks (Kings of Judah: Uzziah (Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; and Jeroboam II in Israel). Andrew E. Hill, Baker’s Handbook of Bible Lists (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1981), 78-80; Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1977), 240.
- The chronology of the three deportations is based upon Henry H. Halley‟s classic work Halley’s Bible Handbook (24th ed.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1965), 210.