Have you every wondered why the Bible was written the way that it was written? Why didn’t God present His message in an encyclopedic format. He could have categorized information under heading, and listed these categories alphabetically. For example, If I wanted to know more about what God thinks of envy, then I would turn to the envy heading and read the specific information about such. Would not this format be better than having envy mentioned in various narratives about different people and events, scattered throughout the Bible?
God knew what He was doing. The book of Isaiah reminds us of the wisdom of God, “Who has measured the waters in the hallow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:12-14). He must have had His reason(s) for His chosen format of the Bible.
While God has not shared with man why He chose the format that He did for the Bible, I can think of some possibilities. Consider –
- He wanted to do more than convey information; He wanted to touch the heart. Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner have written, “Nathan didn’t berate David with rules – Hey, don’t covet your neighbor’s wife! Hey, don’t kill! Hey, don’t commit adultery! – even though David had broken all of them. He just told a story about a lamb. Very persuasive” (Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Think Like A Freak, p. 188). Paul wrote, “I beseech you… by the mercies of God…” (Romans 12:1). The message of the Bible tug at the heart-strings.
- He wanted to do more than convey information; He wanted to provide example. He did not just tell us to live by faith; He provided examples of this (e.g. Hebrews 11). He did not just tell us to love; He showed us (e.g. John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:16-18). He did not just tell us to endure; He held up examples of endurance (e.g. Hebrews 12:1-4; James 5:10-11).
- He wanted to do more than convey information; He wanted to make it memorable. Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner have written, “A recent survey found that only 14 percent of U.S. adults could recall all Ten Commandments… What do we remember from the Bible? The stories. We remember that Eve fed Adam a forbidden apple (Note: The Bible does not say it was an apple. -B.H.), and that one of their sons, Cain, murdered the other, Abel. We remember that Moses parted the Red Sea in order to lead the Israelites out of slavery. We remember that Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his son on the mountain – and even remember that King Solomon settled a maternity dispute by threatening to slice a baby in half. These are the stories we tell again and again, even those of us who aren’t remotely ‘religious.’ Why? Because they stick with us; they move us; they persuade us to consider the constancy and frailties of the human experience in a way, that mere rules cannot” (Levitt and Dubner, pp. 186-187). Who doesn’t know the parable of The Good Samaritan, or the parable of The Prodigal Son? Who doesn’t remember David and Goliath?
- He wanted to do more than convey information; He wanted to cause man to dig. Since the Bible is not laid out with all of the information on one subject found in one place under one categorical heading, man must search. This requires effort. “If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:4-5). This reveals the heart. This separates those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and those who are only mildly interested.
- The need to dig has an added benefit. Since it is the case that many things may be taught in any section of scripture, it is possible that while one is digging for information on one subject, he may be reminded or taught about another subject which is needful to him.
How much time are you spending in God’s word?