“He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” Nehemiah 8:3
If you can read, think about the person or the people who taught you to do so. Maybe you can’t remember them…
They gave you an amazing skill that is unlike any other. Reading opens doors to ideas and concepts that cannot be accessed any other way. It allows the mind to interact with other minds so that we learn and grow. It is disabling to not read, or not to want to put the intellectual effort into delving into the deep and different though processes of other people.
Schools in England were started by Christian women, such as Hannah More. There were no schools for children, although rich families could pay for sons to be educated and would pay for a tutor. The motivation of these women, was to teach children to read so that they could read the Word of God for themselves, and be able to find God. We have come a very long way since those Christian sentiments were realised.
Dare I say we have become lazy about this skill. The onslaught of the pictures based media, has taken the impetus to read away from many people. We have no taste for improving our reading or trying to read more challenging material. We think we can learn all we need to know through short films and sound-bites. We gave forgotten the joy of reading material that is difficult, and thereby extend our own understanding and insight.
There has always been the proliferation of books, and even in these digital days, books are still written and read. To read the book of books is still the highest pinnacle of our spiritual and intellectual powers, and it feeds the soul like no other book ever could. It can be understood as we read it with forgiven hearts and the Holy Spirit showing us its truth as we read. The Bible is a challenge to read, in various ways, but it changes our minds and lives even as we read it.
There are also Christians from the past who have left us writings that really teach us and feed our souls. To not read, cuts us off from that source of knowledge and blessing. We find it hard to read, so we don’t bother. What a pity to know how to read, and yet not pursue the riches of it. Many also view the Scriptures in this way and because it challenges our reading skills, and our spiritual state, so we leave off from reading it,
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119
We must read the Word to know the Word. If it is not read and rehearsed, it cannot help us when we need it. When we interact with the written, eternal Word, it acts like a sword that cuts out our sinful ways and purifies how we think and live.
“With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.” Psalm 119
As we read the Word, we can know it and speak it. Reading and re-reading the text will embed those words in our minds. The Word will then be alive in us and will be precious to us.
“I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” Psalm 119
Perhaps the truth is we don’t want to read, even read our Bibles, because we don’t really delight in the Word. We might know enough to stand up and speak it to people, but in our private lives, it has very little attraction for us. The problem is not the lack of reading skills, but the lack of love for the Lord Jesus and His precious Word.
Ezra read to all the people. All could understand. He didn’t elaborate too much about the content of the message, but just read the Word of the Lord and explained what was being read. All the people listened carefully and the Word read to them did them good. The Word caused them to weep, because it spoke to their souls, and they were sorry for their failures and sins. This is what caused them to change. The Word then came to them to be joyful, for “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8
This is the purpose and power of reading the Word of God…