Someone once commented on the way we approach reading the Bible. We tend to read certain chapters more than others, shying away from those that seem hard to understand or boring. We pick and choose sentences, verses, passages, but never read the book as a whole the way we do other books. How much would we get out of our favorite novels or even our favorite self-help books if we never read them all the way through, beginning to end? Our understanding of the story and the message would be severely limited.
That’s why I’ve started once again to read through the Bible. There are many schedules available to help one read it through in a year, but I’ve always found them to be a little more ambitious than I am. I prefer to read at my own pace, lingering on passages that interest or hold special meaning for me. The first time I read through the Bible, I remember feeling so amazed at the journey that I immediately began a second reading, which produced different insights than the first time through.
So far, on this my third journey through God’s complete word, I’ve been struck by the story of Moses and the book of Exodus. I knew he led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, gave them the Ten Commandments, and guided them through the wilderness for forty years. But never before had I seen it as the process of building a people group into a nation.
Imagine if all the African Americans in New York or Illinois left the United States to form their own nation. They would already be connected by a cultural identity. But suddenly, the state and national laws would not apply to them. They would have to devise a set of rules and laws to govern everything from their interpersonal relationships to their commerce and trade, right down to the fundamental beliefs that would form the foundation of their nation, the basis for all other laws.
This is what the exodus was all about. God took a people group, the Hebrews, with their own cultural identity out of another nation and formed a nation for Himself. He used Moses to communicate the basic belief system of one God who is worthy of all worship because He alone is holy and sovereign. All other laws spring from this foundational truth. And it took forty years–two generations in today’s terms–to train these people to obey the laws, to accept the basic beliefs, and to form a cohesive nation.
I’ll have more thoughts on this next time, but I’d love to know if this grabs your attention the way it did mine. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.