For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
I’ve been thinking a lot about books lately. In learning to write one, you first need to ‘deconstruct’ it into its various parts: character, storyline, plot, theme, etc. As I’ve been pondering all this, my admiration of the Holy Bible has only grown. It truly deserves recognition as the Greatest Book ever written – although actually it isn’t! It’s one BIG book that’s filled with little books, so really, the Bible isn’t our Holy Book…it’s our Holy Library.
In Sunday School every week there’s a little one- or two-line description of the Bible and I was thinking that these little thoughts might bless adults as well. Here are a few:
- The Bible is God’s true story of love!
- The Bible has two main sections, the Old Testament about God’s covenant with us made through Noah, Abraham and Moses, and the New Testament about God’s covenant with us made through Jesus.
- Even though God inspired different people to write the Bible very long ago, it is still relevant to our lives today.
- The Bible was originally written in three different languages, but now it’s been translated into hundreds of languages from all over the globe.
- Every part of the Bible is there for a reason, showing God’s loving plan for us.
- The Bible is made up of different kinds of writing, including history, laws, poetry and letters.
- It’s filled with all kinds of amazing things God wants us to know about him and how we can live in friendship with him.
I also recently pulled out an old copy of The Bible for Dummies. I honestly thought there couldn’t be anything in there that I didn’t know already, but to my surprise, there were a few interesting nuggets.
- Israel had a large library of scrolls containing history, prophecy, wisdom, the law and more, but it wasn’t until the Babylonian captivity in 586BC that the scrolls that the Israelites were able to bring with them were edited and compiled, resulting in a relatively complete version of the Hebrew Bible around 450BC.
- Interestingly, the books in the Hebrew and Christian Bible are ordered differently.
- Additionally, the Catholic Bible contains a few books that the Protestant Bible does not. We call these apocrypha, and they include 1 & 2 Maccabees which tell the story of Hanukkah.
- The Bible was written over a 1,500-year period by countless authors who lived on three different continents and wrote in three different languages.
- In 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in a cave in Qumran. These were copies of the Hebrew Bible that were more than 1,000 years older than what was previously found. For the most part these were identical to the much newer copies we had been working from!
- Abraham is considered the Patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Here are a couple of things you might not know about Father Abraham:
- The Muslims pray toward Mecca because of Abraham! According to the Koran, after their expulsion from the Garden, Adam and Eve made an altar to God at Mt. Arafat in Mecca. After it was destroyed by the Flood, Abraham (Ibrahim) along with Hagar and Ishmael rebuilt the shrine, now called the Ka’aba (cube) to which millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage every year known as the Hajj.
- Islam’s founder, the prophet Muhammad, traces his lineage to Ibrahim through Ishmael.
- Muslims believe that God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael, not Isaac.
- According to the Jewish Mishnah and the Koran, Abraham’s father was an Idol maker. One day, Abraham smashed all the idols except for the largest, and put a hammer in its hand. When his father returned and demanded to know what happened, Abraham told him the Idol did it. When his father would not accept that idols could actually do anything, Abraham had proved his point about the folly of praying to statues.
- Jerusalem is a sacred city to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
- The Temple in Jerusalem was God’s home on earth. Jews will not set foot on the Temple Mount because they are afraid they might accidently walk on the place that was designated as the ‘Holy of Holies’ in the now ruined Temple.
- For Christians, Jerusalem is where Jesus was dedicated at birth, taught in life, and was crucified and miraculously resurrected.
- Muslims believe that the Temple Mount is where God was ordered to sacrifice his son (as do Jews and Christians) but they believe it was Ishmael not Isaac. Also, that is the place where Muhammad was said to have been carried in a vision and then taken up to tour Heaven.
The Bible, though a vast work, has a coherent plot and storyline that centers around its main character, God, and His desire to have a loving relationship with His creation – humankind. Throughout, it highlights His overarching character traits of faithfulness, forgiveness and unconditional love. Knowing that a ‘wretch’ like me is a beneficiary of all that after all these thousands of years still blows my mind – every day.