In Deuteronomy 30, as Moses finishes his farewell speech to Israel, he makes three remarkable claims about the right way to read Scripture.
First, read your Bible as if your life depends on it. Because it does. Moses presents the people with a clear choice: submission to the Word brings blessing; departure from the Word—or ignorance of it—brings cursing.
Jesus extended this imagery to His teaching as well: “Whoever hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24). And whoever ignores them is a fool, building his house on sand (v. 26). Many people have lives that fare just fine in good weather. But when the storms of tragedy come, as inevitably they will, only the life built on the rock of Christ’s Word will stand.
We evangelicals often staunchly defend the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible—as we should. But understanding the importance of God’s Word does us no good unless we also learn it, obey it, and saturate our lives in it.
Second, read your Bible because God hasn’t hidden what He wants you to know. In Deuteronomy 30:11, Moses says that the Word is neither “too hard” nor “too far off.” It is “very near” to us, in our very “hearts” and “mouths.” In essence, the essentials of what we need to know are accessible and clear, ready to grasp and obey.
Many people today feel like they cannot possibly hope to understand the Bible, especially the Old Testament. For them, it’s a mass of confusing stories. But Jesus was asked a lot of questions about Scripture, and not once did He say, “You know, I get why you’re confused. The Old Testament is just so unclear.” No, He repeatedly responded, “Haven’t you read?” Had His opponents known their Scriptures better, they would not have been making the mistakes they were making.
We won’t be able to understand everything. And that’s fine. But what we need to know for life is plain. The problem is not that we find (rarely) parts of the Bible we cannot understand, but that we refuse to obey the parts we do understand.
Third, don’t just read your Bible; encounter the person within the Bible. At the end of Moses’ sermon, he suddenly shifts from talking about the Word as Israel’s life to talking about the Lord as their life. He is hinting that we need more than a book to follow; we need God Himself to be our life and salvation.
The primary purpose of the Bible has always been to present Jesus. So don’t read it as a how-to manual to improve your life. Read it as the story of how He has redeemed your life. The abundant life isn’t found by learning divine secrets, but by knowing Him.
The Word is living and active, so don’t just read the Bible. Let it read you. Experience in it the living, moving Son of God.