In the process of memorizing 1 Timothy 1: 9-10, I discovered interesting parallels with the Ten Commandments that not only helped me memorize the verses a little faster, but gave me an interesting reversal of what the commandments mean: the negative side, or what not to do. These verses give a list of eleven types of people the law is meant for, marked by the word “for,” that almost exactly correspond to the order of the first nine commandments. While the tenth seems not to specifically be represented, its influence will be seen later. However, two commandments each have two of the types of people, which serves as a form of emphasis.
The first four items are more generic terms for lawbreakers, while the rest are more specific. This parallels the split between the first four commandments being related to God Himself, while the other six are more specific actions against neighbors. Several of the phrases illustrate the most serious type of transgression that could be made against that commandment, although of course, any violation is sin, no matter how large or small.
I have recently begun memorizing the whole book of 1 Timothy in response to a challenge given by Phil Walker, who has been championing the memorization of Scripture for some years now. I have found it desirable to memorize Scripture before, but have never had the focus to memorize a whole book before. A challenge with a set pace (5 verses/week) is a great motivator to keep going, and a goal far beyond anything accomplished before is a great way to accomplish more than you thought possible before making progress.
Memorization is an extension of my previous challenge to write out portions of Scripture as the ancient Israelite kings were instructed to do. If I have a portion of Scripture memorized, no one can ever take it away from me (only time and my own inattention to maintaining it, perhaps).
As Amos 8:11 says, one day there will come a famine of hearing the words of God, so as Joseph did with the grain of Egypt, we must store them up in our hearts during this time of plenty. That way, when times become difficult, we will not run out of the bread of life when it is most needed.
Another reason to memorize Scripture is described in Psalm 119:11: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Understanding God’s Word helps us follow His laws and avoid sin: memorizing it helps us by allowing us to refer to it at any time. In the midst of a temptation, we do not always have direct access to a Bible. If we have encouragement or instruction memorized, we can remind ourselves at the critical time to do the right thing and not give up or give in to temptation.
So I pass along the same challenge given to me: memorize 1 Timothy at the rate of 5 verses per week. It takes dedication to accept a challenge like this, but surely it takes far more dedication to accept God’s calling to His way of life. Memorizing one short book is not too high a goal to set. At the rate of 5 verses per week, 1 Timothy should take less than six months to complete.
In the days of the Israelite monarchy, each king was supposed to make a copy of the law, the Torah, by his own hand so that he would have it to study from all his life. Probably many or most of the kings did not actually do this, considering how few of God’s laws they actually kept, but there is no doubt that the truly righteous and God-fearing kings like David and Hezekiah did do this, and benefited tremendously. The actual requirement in Scripture for this procedure can be found in Deuteronomy 17:18-20.
There are four reasons given as to why this is a good idea for kings, and they all come from reading the Scriptures that he has written out for himself. Continue reading
I’ve recently acquired a new appreciation for bread. In modern countries, much of the bread that is commonly available is bleached, nearly nutritionless sliced white bread. I’ve always liked some of the darker breads like rye, but how it is formed is important as well as what is in it. Sliced bread is one of the symbols of our modern “convenience” society. The antithesis of sliced bread is a long single loaf of bread, like French bread. I have recently taken to buying French bread flavored with rosemary, and I have found that a big hunk of this bread without any other adornment is one of the best tasting things I have had in a long time.
Bread is one of the more common symbols or metaphors used in Scripture, as it is a common, everyday item. At least, whole loaves of bread were common. Sliced bread would have been unheard of in Biblical times. Keep that in mind. Some of the references to bread would make no sense using sliced bread.
2 Timothy 3:16: “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.”
I thought I would start with this passage, since the basis of Scripture as truth is pretty much foundational to everything else. It is important to establish that first, before looking at anything else, because if Scripture is just the writings of men, then there is no reason to trust it if it doesn’t seem to make sense.
But this passage from Timothy shows clearly that Scripture is given by God for our edification. The “inspiration of God” is literally “God-breathed” which reflects the spirit and power of God working through these words to bring us truth. From Scripture we can then learn everything else we need to know about God and his plan for mankind. It may not be obvious all at once, but the more we study, the more we learn and the more we are able to learn.
More can be said about studying Scripture, of course, but here I just want to emphasize the point that it should be the source and highest authority for truth for God’s people because it was essentially written by God (and who knows more about creation than God does?). Regardless of which prophet or apostle wrote which parts, there are over five hundred verses that literally say, “God said…” There are over a thousand more that use other titles or phrases to refer to God saying something. And there are countless verses that are indicated in one way or another as God’s words without having it explicitly stated.
If you consider yourself one of God’s children, why not find out what he has to say?
Welcome to The Perfect Law of Liberty. This title is a reference to James 1:25, where Scripture itself is considered “the perfect law of liberty.” I will be periodically writing about various passages of Scripture, whatever I’m reading or find noteworthy, and what I’ve learned from them.
I’ll also be writing about images or metaphors that appear with meaning in Scripture. For example, a “rock” is often used as a metaphor for the Messiah himself (Daniel, Matthew, etc). I’ll probably write about this in greater detail at some point. I’ve found that there are many natural objects or images that have application to Scripture, and it is a very good way to connect Scripture to one’s daily life if everything one sees is linked to a Scripture reference.
One final note: I don’t consider myself an authority at all. Check everything I’ve said against Scripture if you don’t agree with me, or even if you do. This is for my edification first, to make me clarify my own thinking and study Scripture more consistently. Anyone who wishes to join me is welcome. I expect the subject matter might become controversial at times, and I’ll leave the comment ability open, but I won’t keep flaming or antagonistic comments.
This is the first step along the path. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105