Monday, October 24, 2016

Thank you, Father!

Each year observant Jews read through the first five books of the Bible, or Torah. This is done by reading through a specified portion each week, along with selections from the prophets. Each week at synagogue a large scroll is removed from its special cabinet or ark, rolled to the selected text and portions read aloud to the congregation. The liturgical year ends at the conclusion of the Feast of Booths (Sukkot), then the reading schedule resets for the new year in a celebration called Rejoicing in the Torah (Simchat Torah). It is celebrated by singing, dancing, eating and bringing the scrolls from their ark and carefully re-rolling them to the beginning, to start the cycle of readings once again. 

To our Gentile minds this holiday might almost seem like an odd little afterthought tagged onto the end of  Sukkot, but it definitely has something to teach us. The Bible is not just a book among many books, not a collection of pithy sayings, not a compendium of religious instruction, not a dry and dusty history, not a handbook of do's and don'ts. The Bible is unique among all books because it is alive, powerful, almost vibrating with the fervent love God has for us. His Word contains the power to re-order our thoughts, renewing our minds. Its blessing to us cannot be overstated and it is good to be reminded to thank God for this gift. 

Our Bible contains the story of God's interactions with Man. It outlines His plan to redeem the Earth--from the Garden to the Millennium. It is full of examples to help us walk our way to God. It is the means for learning who God is, how He feels about us, how He thinks and acts, how we should respond and most importantly how we may connect ourselves to the source of life and power and peace. We can encounter God in many ways, but the first and best way to learn about Him must be what He says about Himself. Without this direct revelation, we would be left blindly feeling our way toward God and missing Him more often than not. 

The Bible can be studied and enjoyed as fine literature, but that sadly misses the point. Even reading and giving mental assent is not sufficient. The Bible is meant to be our road map to God. Its purpose is to draw us to Him, finding at last the satisfaction of our souls. It's meant to illuminate His beauty, tune our ears to His voice, demonstrate the difference between good and evil, and warn us of pitfalls. The Word is His love letter to us, drawing our hearts to fall deeply in love with our Creator, the King of the universe.

God has given us a great treasure! We must drink deeply until we are sated and changed...until we behold His face and are dumbstruck at His beauty. Rejoicing in the Torah is not meant to elevate a book, but to acknowledge the wonderful provision of our amazing Creator. I love that God created a people and gave them His word and set about inviting the world entire to be blessed and included in His plan for them. 

Thank you Father for giving us Your  Word--a way to learn about You, find You, know You and love You. That is definitely something to celebrate!

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