One summer, my college Bible study decided to look at some of the prophetic books. I was assigned to lead the study on Zechariah 5. I’d never read Zechariah but I was determined to do an awesome job. So, in a rare and decidedly un-procrastinizing manner I cracked my Bible to that chapter the instant I got home from the study. I was going to study this thing inside and out for a full week so that the following week I’d be able to lead people on a life-changing experience through Zechariah 5.
In case you haven’t read Zechariah 5, I’ll summarize it for you. A giant, thirty-foot scroll flies into a building and knocks it to rubble. Then a woman gets put in a basket and flies off to Babylon carried by lady-stork-things.
The end. Seriously, it’s a really short chapter.
I was dumbfounded. Huh? For the next week I spent more time studying than I probably ever have. Every spare moment I would find myself praying, “God, please give me insight into Zechariah 5. I just don’t get it.”
When I showed up the following week I tried my best to lead, but there aren’t a bunch of study materials out there on this chapter – or at least there weren’t at the time; there’s probably whole internet web sites on it today.
So when it was time to wrap up the best thing I could say was that this stupid chapter did force me closer to God as I read it dozens of times and was praying constantly. Kinda like how we lean on Him more in times of trouble, right?
The study sucked, though, and spawned an inside joke among some friends: when something is completely ridiculous or doesn’t make sense we’ll call it a flying scroll.
Fast forward to tonight when I was leading a study on Daniel 8 in which Daniel has a vision and then afterwards is sick for days and says the vision was impossible to understand. Yeah, Daniel. The dude who could interpret dreams and stuff. He got sick and said this vision was nutso. I was much less vigilant and preparatory this time, only starting my research a day beforehand. But I figured, hey, after that flying scroll nonsense I can lead anything. (Note: always good to say, “I don’t understand this stuff either. Let’s see what we can figure out together.”)
Thankfully I have an awesome group and they got into some great discussion despite the weirdness of topic. Which leads me to the title of this post: the dusty pages.
In the middle of my Bible there’s a barren wasteland that goes basically from Isaiah to Malachi. It’s right in the middle of the book but I rarely touch it. If by some chance those pages happen to have seen the light of day, it was from the book falling open accidentally or when I was required to look up some obscure verse in Nahum or something. Those pages are fresh and new. (There are two other, smaller wastelands in my Bible known as most-of-Job and all-of-freaking-Numbers-and-Deuteronomy. Surprisingly, I actually like Leviticus; yeah, I’m weird.)
And I’ll bet I’m not the only one who rarely elects to visit this destination.
Why? I mean, we’ll pull out little stories like Jonah and the big fish or the fiery furnace, but that’s about it. Why are we so averse to opening up the prophets and studying them?
Because we don’t understand them.
We live in a society where any knowledge can be instantly gained by going to Wikipedia. Give us something that’s got no clear explanation and we shun it. We want our Bible and our God and our teachings about them to be clear, preferably concise, affirmative, but mostly applicable.
Three Ways to Apply the Truths of Hosea 1 in Your Marriage.
“I saw him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power.” (Daniel 8:7) Okay quick! How can you apply this to your work life?
Here’s the sad truth, folks. Some parts of the Bible don’t apply directly to my life right now. Know why? Because the Bible was not written just for me. I think we try too often to make the Bible all about us when it is anything but.
The Bible was written for all people in all times and it is God’s story. The Bible is about God. Yeah, that guy who created the universe and invented the laws of physics and designed both our DNA and sunsets. His power. His majesty. His love. His desire for reconciliation with all of us.
No wonder we don’t understand parts of it! It would be like me trying to explain an internal combustion engine to an ant! The ant would say, “Yeah, whatever dude. I’m going back to gathering my crumbs.”
But maybe some wise ant would be smart to stop and listen and realize, “Whoa, there’s a whole other world out there that is so much bigger than me and that I don’t understand. How humbling!”
Oh God, I want to be that wise ant. Help turn me more toward those dusty pages – as well as all the other pages, too – to discover more truth about You. Even if it’s just more of how completely unknowable You are.