See and Savor the Bible's Rich Layers
by Mitch Chase
While celebrating my wife's birthday at a Brazilian restaurant we finished our meal with a wonderful dessert. A birds-eye view of the cake slice revealed a chocolate topping with a sweet glaze. But sticking the fork into the cake revealed something even more pleasing, something unexpected: layers. Layers of other desserty goodness that beckoned me to savor. Even though our meals were finished, suddenly we weren't in a hurry anymore. Here was something artfully prepared with the finest ingredients. The layers mattered because their cumulative effect heightened the enjoyment of the food. The plate didn't feature some hodge-podge attempt at combining a little of everything and hoping the result worked out. The presentation and consumption was rich and satisfying because someone designed it that way.
Have you ever noticed how the Bible speaks about itself with sensory language regarding our spiritual palate? God's words are sweet like honey (Ps 119:103). Believers should long for the milk of God's word (1 Pet 2:2). Man doesn't live on bread alone but on each word from Yahweh's mouth (Deut 8:3). Taste that God is good (Ps 34:8).
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Sometimes we might find ourselves rushing through Scripture. Maybe we're trying to meet a daily quota, trying to get to the next thing on the to-do list, or perhaps we're more interested in a passage still to come. So we rush. We hastily consume, take in a birds-eye view, with nary a prayerful pause or time for reflection.
We should be more patient as we read the Bible. There are layers to see and be savored.
The Authors as Literary Artists
God's Word is a marvel. To read the Bible is to connect with literary compositions thousands of years old, divine revelation written down in stories and letters and poetry. But this inscripturated communication has not been hastily compiled. The Bible's human authors are literary artists. They wrote with intention and structure.
There's no book on earth like the Bible, and no text should be more savored. We should give close attention to the writers' rhetorical devices, intertextual echoes, explicit Old Testament quotations, and even the arrangement of the material. A surface read won't reveal the artistry that patiently laboring over their texts will. We must give to the Bible our time, our mind, our prayerful dependence for insight and understanding…
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