Pangs of Illiteracy

2 Chronicles 17:9 (ESV)
And they taught in Judah, having the Book of the Law of the Lord with them. They went about through all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.

Like many Christians today, the people of Judah in the time of Jehoshaphat were biblically illiterate. They had never taken the time to listen to and discuss God’s Word and understand how it could change them. Jehoshaphat realized that knowing God’s Word was the first step to getting people to live as they should, so he basically initiated a nationwide religious education program. He reversed the religious decline that had occurred at the end of Asa’s reign by putting God first in the people’s minds and instilling them a sense of commitment and mission. Because of this, the nation began to follow God.

This should be a model for today’s churches, Sunday Schools, and Bible study groups. Such a cry for a renewal in discipleship training must start in the pulpits across the country. Without the support of the pastorate, such a revival will not happen. But even with such support, it will take a dedicated education ministry to reverse this growing trend towards Biblical illiteracy. But we must also take caution not to simply rely on opening our Bibles on Sunday and expect to grow in our knowledge and understanding.

In the book of Nehemiah, there is another example of the power of studying God’s Word. In Nehemiah 8, we see how the people paid close attention to Ezra as he read God’s Word, and their lives were changed. It’s important to note that during this time, nobody had access to their own personal scrolls or complete teachings of the Law. It was much different than it is today. Yet, they not only heard the words but understood them. Nehemiah 8:12 states, “And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them”.

For many of today’s Christians, we hear the Bible so often we have become dulled to its words and immune to its teachings—assuming we open His Word at all. There no longer seems a fervent desire to seek His Word for growth and sadly for many Christians, the Bible is gathering much dust because of this. Gone are the personal and family devotionals that were once a regular part of most Christian homes. The trappings of the world have taken precedence.

If we want a discipleship revival, we need to change our approach to study. When we do open His Word, we need to read carefully every verse and ask the Holy Spirit to help us answer the question, “How does this apply to my life?” Reading the Bible is not the same as studying the Bible. This is why it is so important for those who are called to teach God’s Word to teach towards understanding and application. We must do something about what we have learned if it is to have real significance in our lives.

Throughout Scripture, we are commanded to study God's Word, the source of all righteous training (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God's Word should never depart from us, and we should meditate on its Truth (not simply read - see Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; 119:11; Deuteronomy 11:18-23; Colossians 3:16; Revelation 1:3).

Let us commend to practice studying God's Word daily as we approach a new year, not our Bible study to be merely a Sunday-only activity.

Let us grow strong in His Word, using our literacy to fend off the evil of this world.