If you’ve ever tried your hand at consistent Bible reading, you have no doubt encountered passages that baffled you. Either they were too complicated to easily understand or they left you with an unsettled feeling, wondering, “How could God have actually meant to say that?
Certainly not all of the Bible sections are baffling or troubling, indeed much of the Bible is beautiful, comforting, and clarifying. However, let me suggest something that might help you through the tougher parts. Keep reading. And I don’t mean keep reading throughout your life; I mean keep reading in that very moment. Quite often, the Bible clarifies itself, with subsequent verses shedding helpful light on the trickier preceding ones.
Here is an example I saw in my own Bible reading just this week. In Romans 9-11 the Apostle Paul brings a profound, but somewhat challenging teaching about God’s special relationship with the nation of Israel. In these three chapters, Paul addresses themes of predestination, God’s sovereignty, and hope for Israel’s future, yet despite his brilliant treatment of these subjects, one can still feel a bit confused or troubled at the end of them. However, if we keep reading just a bit further, we will see that Paul writes these words as well: “Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord…to Him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36).
I love it! Paul presents his truth and revelation, but then he steps back and says essentially, “Hey, don’t forget that we’re talking about God here. Yes, we’re doing our best to explain eternal plans and mysteries, but at the end of the day, we are created beings grappling with the insights and ways of our Creator.”
Certainly God reveals Himself to us—that’s the overarching theme of the entire biblical narrative—and we can be confident in His revelation. However, rather than thinking that we have Him perfectly figured out (or being unduly troubled when we realize that we don’t), let’s just worship Him. Worship is our safest posture anyway, and, mysteriously, worship seems to be another portal for increased understanding.
As Paul said: “To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”