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The dangers of reading tiny bits of scripture January 29, 2022

Posted by Pete B in Scripture Engagement.
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God can and often does speak powerfully through single verses of scripture, even when they are quoted out of context, but there are dangers in this to. People seem quite keen on sharing affirming, ‘feel good’ verses but nice people rarely quote single verses about not eating ravens, or about slaughtering other nations. (I’d be worried if you did and don’t recommend it).

I recently noticed one encouraging sounding verse posted on the YouVersion Facebook page and shared over 2,500 times in the first 24 hours.

Being told that God goes with you and will not leave or forsake you is encouraging …unless you happen to be using it to justify doing something that God doesn’t want you to do.

The original context is that these are words spoken by Moses to Joshua, encouraging him that God would be with him as he entered the promised land. It is repeated again in Deut 6:8 and in Joshua 1:9

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut 6:8

Less people share Deut 6:9-10 reminding people about cancelling debts and commanding them to listen to the public reading of scripture:

“So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for cancelling debts, during the Festival of Tabernacles when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing.” 

Even less people are likely to share “And the Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. And in that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and calamities will come on them, and in that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us?’ “

Joshua 1:9 repeats the encouragement

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

…but does so after saying

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

The next few books of the Bible make it clear that the Israelites did not follow “all the law”, neither the people, nor their rulers (even the good ones). It should be added that Christians don’t follow all the laws either. Acts 15 (over more than a few verses) makes it clear that God accepted non-Jews without a need to follow Old Testament law. If you want to find out more about that read the whole chapter…

bible.com/en-GB/bible/111/ACT.15.10-11

I’d like to encourage reading the whole Bible, but there are challenges in that too. I recently posted on four dangers of reading the Bible in a year and plan on a few more posts this year on the benefits and challenges of Bible reading.

So far this year I’ve read more books of the Bible than I expected. Some of it is a bit tough going but having read it before I’m glad that I know how it ends.

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