Reading, Meditating, and Praying Scripture
Up to this point I have been discussing such things as the grand narrative of all Scripture, of all Scripture pointing to and culminating in Jesus as the Christ and Incarnate Son of God, and finally, how the voice of God in the Bible either speaks to us as demand or as promise – the law/gospel distinction.
This week I will begin to share some practical advice in going about reading, meditating, and praying Scripture with the long term effect that we begin to be shaped by God’s Written Word.
As I have intimated already, reading the Bible from cover to cover isn’t necessarily the best way to read, study, and meditate on it. For starters, the Bible is not so much a single book as it is a collection of sixty-six shorter books. And each book is unique in its style or form. For example, one book may contain historical narrative. Another might primarily be poetry or hymns. A number of books are actually letters written to churches. And some books involve prophecy and read like sermons. And there are yet other styles. The literary term for style is “genre” (pronounced ‘zhän-rə).
You will also notice in short order that the books and the contents are not always in chronological order. For example, Malachi is the last, and thirty-ninth, book of the Old Testament, and it contains prophecies directed to people spoken of in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which are the fifteenth and sixteenth books.
The new reader may initially be surprised to discover that the Old Testament is nearly two-thirds of the Bible, consisting of thirty-nine of the sixty-six books. In general the Old Testament documents the history and experience of God’s people before Jesus’ birth. It points forward to the Messiah and Savior God promised to send. With the spotlight on the Savior, the New Testament documents the life of Jesus and the history of the church in the decades following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.
Since You Asked…
What is the meaning of the Incarnation?
The word incarnation is taken from Latin term incarnatio. It literally means “taking flesh” and in the Christian Faith it refers to God becoming human. In John 1:14 we learn of God the Son becoming flesh with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed the child born to Mary was a man, but it is the insistence of the Christian Faith that Jesus was also fully God. He is sometimes called the God-Man. Without ceasing to be fully divine, inseparable and equal to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit; God the Son also fully assumed our humanity in the womb of the Virgin Mary. In this way Jesus mediates God to man and then also represents man to God. The mystery of the Incarnation becomes a necessary means by which Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplishes our salvation.