The Bible (both old and new testaments) exhorts us to read and study God’s word so that we thoroughly understand God’s character and nature, and how He wants us to live our lives. Through Jesus, He wants a personal relationship with us. He doesn’t want “religion” or ritual, because religion doesn’t save: Jesus does.
Look and see how many, many books and chapters of the Bible (again, both old and new testaments) are offered as warnings to us all to not ignore our God, the Creator of everything that exists.
As I was studying Scripture this morning, I was particularly struck by these words from the Book of Hosea 4:6 (NASV), given as warning and prophesy to Israel prior to their destruction by Assyria. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because you have rejected knowledge…”
Do those words bring any degree of conviction to your heart? Are you rejecting the knowledge readily and freely available to you because you’re “busy” with your life? Take a look at your activities throughout the day. What actual value has that 30 minutes (or hours????) of television brought to your life? What about the time spent on social media? Do you find yourself watching silly videos posted by people you don’t even know, and then realize how much time has evaporated? Oh, it may have been entertaining, but was it of any real value???? And when things get rough in your life, do you ever feel God seems so far away? I’ve heard this several times, and you may have as well: “If you feel far from God, guess who moved?” Here’s the clue: it certainly wasn’t God.
We should have our noses in our Bibles every single day, or certainly as often as we can manage — always giving priority to time with the Lord. (Try getting up 15-20 minutes earlier every day and make it your very first task.) If you’ve tried reading the Bible and feel like you’re just not getting much out of it — possibly because you’re struggling with old King James linguistics, I implore you to try a different, contemporary version. Nowadays, you can read almost any version of the Bible online for free, or download from Amazon or the Apple Store. Also please read, listen to or watch commentaries and studies posted online, for free (such as, but not limited to: versebyverseministry.org; bible commentary; https://thebibleproject.com/podcasts/exploring-my-strange-bible/; https://thebibleproject.com/explore/;and enduringword.com), and pray for discernment from the Holy Spirit. I will testify to what great insight you will gain — not only an increase in head knowledge, but tremendous enhancement of your spiritual growth and your connection with the Lord.
The thing is (and you’ll learn this once you begin to study Scripture), the Jews believed they were “just fine” because they continued to go through the motions (ritual) of the Law, without putting any thought into it. Without putting their hearts in it. They worshipped and trusted in other gods, adding a small side-serving of the One True God just to make sure they had all the bases covered. They acted according to “what was right in their own hearts.”
I ask you to “Sow with a view to righteousness. Reap in accordance with kindness. Break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord.” (Hosea 10:12)