(Continuing a series on Bible reading that started last week with “The challenges of making time.”)
Because we’ve tried. Someone told us to just read a chapter from the book of Proverbs each day. Chapter 1 on the first of the month. Chapter 2 on the second of the month. Chapter fifteen on the fifteenth.
We tried. But it wasn’t “just” reading. We ran into words we didn’t know. Concepts we weren’t sure we agreed with. References that we simply did not understand.
We started reading the book of Ezra because our Bible dropped open to that page. And we read the first few sentences:
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
And we thought,” Who is Jeremiah and what did he write?” And wonder why did the king write this letter. And whether this shows up in any of the other history books.
And we are lost. Two paragraphs into a resolve to be healthy and we feel clueless.
We call out to God, maybe, and say “Help me understand how this applies to me.” But three minutes later, Cyrus is still the king. And we are lost.
You know that feeling of being lost? Does it help to know it’s not just you? And that maybe the prayer could be, “Help me understand this.” Because understanding comes before application.
To see one way to understand the book after Ezra, I wrote about Nehemiah in A Great Work.