Now that we have an overview of the Wheel in relation to itself, after we’ve begun a detailed examination relation to one particular Book of Scripture, we have enough of a basis to consider why the structure of the Wheel exists at all. Why should there be such greatly detailed structure and consistent themes at many levels from book to chapter to verse to words? There are many reasons, but they may lead to a surprising conclusion.
1. The God who inspired the truth of Scripture to be written in human languages is a God of order and structure.
The structure of Scripture mirrors the organized structure of the mind of God. This is simply the nature of God, to do all things to the highest perfection and detail. By studying scripture, we learn about God, not just by what scripture says, but by what scripture is, because it was made by God, and it represents God to our limited understanding. John tells us right up front: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The One who became the Messiah is associated with the Word and with God’s revealed truth.
2. The amazing structure of the Word is a testament to God’s perfection and brilliance in order to cause those that recognize it to give glory to the One who created it.
Scripture points to God as the sole object of worship in existence. Therefore, the perfection of scripture must invite us to give more glory to its creator, as we give glory to God for creating ourselves, the immense universe of galaxies, and the tiniest flower or insect as well. If we consider this carefully, the cry of our hearts may be, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:4) No human mind could have designed this multi-leveled structure of Scripture from the writings of dozens of people spanning more than three millennia of history. As well say that the book could have written itself, or that the structure of DNA could have evolved from nothing. It’s just not possible.
3. The structure of the Word teaches us how to worship by teaching us how to become more like God.
Scripture itself explains its purpose in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 this way: “All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Normally people read this simply that the content of scripture tells us how to be perfected by explaining repentance, justification, the love of God, the law of God, etc. It’s certainly true that it does this, and we must not ignore the understanding of these important concepts. But if the structure of Scripture mirrors the structure of the mind of God, then the way God thinks about ideas and links them together is also of great importance for organizing our understanding to see things the same way that God sees them.
4. The structure of Scripture is an aid to memory and understanding.
When top memory experts work on memorizing a large amount of information, they always hang that information on a mental structure.* That always means associating a list of new information with a list of well-known information in order to maintain the cohesion between the items in their correct order. The simplest version of the technique is just to associate the new items with numbers, but that’s often not meaningful or vivid enough to maintain the mental connections for long or for large sets of data. More advanced versions associate items with places in a mental representation of a physical structure such as a house or road.
The Wheel of Scripture does the exact same thing, but on multiple levels at once for maximum efficiency and mental retention. First, the text has a specific order, from the books being set in their list of 1 to 66, and each chapter in order within its book, and the words in order within their verses.
Next, the list is rolled up into a two-dimensional wheel with three layers or cycles of 22 books each. Each set of three books that are in the same corresponding place in each cycle is associated with one of the 22 Hebrew letters, which are themselves each associated with their ordinal numbers. Within the text itself, each Hebrew letter is given a specific domain of images and concepts that it represents.
Finally, the text is structured to bring out these themes at every level so that the set of Hebrew letters with their representative concepts can be used as a mental structure for remembering the text itself. Plus the wheel is a physical structure in which to place these concepts in order to learn them as the basic structure.
These four reasons illustrate a process that the structure of the Word facilitates. First, through Scripture we recognize the nature of God as being highly organized in a certain way. We give God glory for this illustration of perfection, and we desire to know and worship Him more deeply as a result. We study Scripture to become more like God but also to understand how God thinks. And we use the structure to impress upon our own minds the patterns that God has given us for how ideas connect. In this process, our minds become structured more like the mind of God and we become more like God in the way we think. As character is shaped by life experience, the mind is shaped by mental experience. The more we remember of scripture, the more we can understand it, link it together, and follow what it says. As our actions follow our thoughts, we will act more like God and grow closer to being perfected.
God tells us, “For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8) By learning and living the content of the Word, we can learn some of God’s ways. But by memorizing the Word and learning its structure, we can learn some of God’s thoughts and learn to understand what God sees as important and what ideas are connected.
*For more information on memorizing through mental structures, with various exercises for improving mental function, take a look at the classic book Mind and Memory Training by Ernest E. Wood (1936), full text available online.