Well I’ve officially been studying the Holy Bible for a year now. So far I’ve made it all the way to the very end of 2nd Samuel. Can you believe I’ve only made it that far!? It has been one crazy year. I changed my diet because of it, my belief in other gods, and have even reenrolled in college because of it. If you would like an even more crazy indication of how much the Bible has affected my life this past year, look no further than to my son. Moses Russell Anderson was born on July 2nd, 2017 and yes we named him intentionally after Moses of the Old Testament .
Why did we choose the name Moses other than the fact that Moses means drawn from the water in ancient Egyptian and our little Moses was born in the tub? Well because I believe that Moses was a real person who really lived. Not just that though. I believe Moses was one of the greatest people to ever live. I’ve always believed that a person’s name can really shape who they are and how they think of themselves. So what better namesake for my perfect little boy than the man who held the waters up? The man who spoke to God face-to-face with his shoes off? The man who didn’t believe in himself even when the Great I AM did, but was obedient to the letter anyway? The man who stood against bullies, who gave his heart to the weak, the sick, the defenseless, the afflicted, the needy? The man who forgot himself to serve others. The man who never stopped learning? The man who was brave and who fought fiercely against those who stood against good? The man who begged his ever-listening master for just a little more time on earth to serve, love, and work just a bit longer for the people he loved and gave everything to?
Sure I could have named him Braxxtleee, Ryyker, Taysiyme, or some such. But I thought Moses was pretty alright.
And now Moses will forever be a reminder to me and my family of the LORD and how peculiar his ways can seem to us. But also how beautiful his world is, if you can just seek out and find a place quiet enough to experience it.
So, I love the Bible. Its not a secret. And over the past year I’ve learned some things about it that I love and cherish. And now I want to share a few of them with you. So here you go. Here’s what I’ve learned studying the Bible this year…
The Holy Bible is Ancient
This year I’ve learned that the Holy Bible is not a book that was written by the angels and sent down on a cloud to rest comfortably next to a set of gold plates in upstate New York. The Bible is a dirty book. It’s pages are torn, its ink fades in places and is illegible in others. Its cover is tattered and unrecognizable. Its origin is confusing and disparate. In 2017 the Bible, especially the Old Testament, doesn’t make any sense at all.
And yet, here it is. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you and everyone you know have more than one copy of the Holy Bible in your house somewhere. Or your car. Or your parents house. Or on your phone. Maybe your particular Bible is in pristine condition. No tears. No thumb smudges. No creases. Which is an inaccurate representation of what that sacred book had to go through to get onto your desk, bookshelf, storage box, or tablet.
The Bible is a miracle. An ancient text. No, scratch that. Not just an ancient text. One of the most ancient texts that we know of. Stop and think about that for a moment.
Right now, in our possession, all of us have one of the most ancient things in the world, just sitting around our house collecting dust. Think about it!
That’s liking saying that all of us, upon being born, inherited a T-Rex fossil (obviously older than the Bible I know) or a cave painting, or an ancient papyri of ancient and mystical codes and stories. Thats the Bible. Do we really appreciate that?
The Holy Bible is not a Book
I used to think that the Bible was a book written by a guy, or God, or something, and that it was found somewhere and then someone held onto it like Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli, and then handed it over to like the Romans or something and then it just hung around in Europe until Kings started being Christian in England and then one of them who was named James, translated the whole thing into really confusing English. That was my view of the Bible before last year. For 32 years of my life I’ve thought this about the Bible. Well I was wrong.
Here’s how the Bible started.
First it was oral tradition. Stories of great floods and earthquakes, monsters and giants, gods and God, family and betrayal and love and hate. Passed down from generation to generation. Then people, a very very very long time ago started recording those stories. On stones, on metal, on paper, on skins. The stories weren’t cave drawings. They were sophisticated. They were beautifully written. They were precise and eternal in their nature. Moses may have written much of the first five books. David may have added to it. Abraham. All skilled writers and storytellers and historians.
Then those stories started being copied. And copied. And copied. Scrolls of sacred texts were being distributed around the world at an impressive rate. Everyone, it seemed had a copy of these sacred writings. And for good reason. They were the law of the people. They held in them divine directions from God, rules that must be lived by. Like a game of telephone, the stories took on different shapes and wording, but not by much.
Eventually world powers would spread the Hebrew people who cherished and protected these writings around the world, scattering them as a people and taking with them their unified texts.
Since then, brilliant authors, poets, historians, and people of God have all contributed, some in small ways, some in big ways, to bring the writings of the ancient prophets and historians back together.
Most of the Bible as we know it today was written between 1000 – 200 years before Christ.
The first translation of the compiled books of the Hebrew Bible was a Greek one and was managed and held at the library of Alexandria. Dozens of Hebrew scholars from Rome were brought to the library to sit and translate the compiled texts into one great Greek book. The Greeks put each scholar in a room by himself, completely cut off from outside communication while they each translated. As the story goes, when all translations were reviewed and compared, they were exactly the same word-for-word. Those who believe the story believe it was a divine miracle.
After that the Bible finds stability as a real book. Eventually, King James will put his name on a definitive translation into the English language. The rest of the story is more known. Pilgrims, tyranny, martyrdom, America. And here we are, in 2017 with a book that millions have died for. That rulers have fought against and failed against. A book that people would try and refute and attack every day of its existence. Yet, a book that is responsible for all of the civic laws that protect our lives every day. A book that is the foundation of our democracy and modern civilization.
The Holy Bible is Not Irrelevant
Yes, if you read the a few verses out of Judges, or Leviticus, and just breeze over them, the Bible will seem very out of date. Concubines, murder, sacrifice. Its all in there. But it doesn’t mean the Bible is irrelevant. On the contrary, we can see ourselves in every verse of the Bible. The human story is so vivid through each chapter. You can relate to each character. You can feel the way they feel. Understand the reasons they act the way they do.
And if you believe in Jesus Christ, you can see him in the Old Testament. The story of the Bible is one continuous story about Jesus Christ. And thats the definition of relevant.
The Holy Bible is Straight Cray Cray
Its up to you whether you want to believe that these things actually happened or not. And its up to you whether you want to take things literally in the Bible. but either way, the fact is that some crazy shit happens in the Bible. Here are a few things:
- Talking donkeys
- Fat men getting stabbed so hard the knife disappears into their belly fat
- Heterosexual and Homosexual rape
- Other gods
- A couple having sex gets run through with a javolin
- Giants. Lots of giants
- Dragons, fiery flying serpents, and sea monsters
- People getting swallowed up by said sea monsters and living
- Prophets summoned back from the dead by witches
- Cutting dead people into twelve pieces and mailing those piece all over
- Sons trying to kill their fathers, fathers killing their sons
- Magic hair and effective jaw bone weapons
- And more!
The Bible is bonkers
Its Not About the Whale
If you ask someone what they know about the story of Jonah, nine times out of ten they will say that its about a guy who gets swallowed by a whale. Well, to quote the great pastor Timothy Mackey, “Its not about the fish” (The Bible says nothing about a whale, the English word used is great fish.
Its not about the whale people! Thats just part of the story. The point of Bible stories like this one are to show us a mirror of ourselves and to force us to ask the question “Is this me? And if so, what can I do about it?”
I love the Bible. I love it so much. I want to shout it from the rooftops to everyone I know. I want to tell everyone that its not just a bunch of begats (There are like four pages of begats in the whole Torah, c’mon people!) I want people to know that it can change your life. That it can teach you things and that if you are looking for God or maybe you’re just trying to find out more about what people believe about him, you can find it in the Bible. Its relevant, its powerful, its beautiful.
Here’s to year number two reading the rest of the Old Testament! And who knows, maybe I’ll finish the whole thing this year! One thing’s for sure: If I finish it you can bet your bottom dollar that the first thing Im gonna do is start it right back over again.