Why Isn’t Simchat Torah in Nissan?

For those of you who may not be familiar with Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah), it is the holiday that comes on the 8th day after Sukkot.  On this day we all get together in the Synagogue and read the end portion of Deuteronomy, then as the congregation sings (and in some places will also have Davidic dancing, usually a Hora since everyone can dance the Hora) the Torah is rolled back to the very beginning, and after that is done the first portion of Genesis is read.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

I have been blessed in that many times I have helped to roll back the Torah, and believe-you-me if you want to have forearms that look like Popeye’s, you will get them when you roll back a heavy Torah. You have to be very, VERY careful because it is made of animal skin and tied with animal gut (Kosher animals, of course.) The cost of a Torah can be anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to well into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Torah is separated into 54 Parashot (portions), which are read on each Shabbat. In leap years they are read separately and in non-leap years sometimes two will be read at the same time, in order that at the end of the year, on Simchat Torah, every synagogue in the world will be reading the end of Deuteronomy and turning their Torah back to the beginning. Except for some synagogues which use a three-year cycle of reading instead of a one-year cycle: after all, we’re Jewish and it just wouldn’t be right if we all agreed on something.

BTW…I have written a book that is a commentary on each of the 54 Torah parashot, which can also be used for Bible study or even as fodder for a sermon. Here is a link to where you can buy it if you are interested (Parashot Drashim.)

In Leviticus 23:23 God says the first day of the 7th month is a day of remembrance, a day for blowing on the shofar and a day of complete rest. In Judaism, we say it is the first day of the Ten Days of Awe, during which we look, introspectively, to see how far short of the way God wants us to live we have been and thereby prepare our souls for Yom Kippur, the 10th day of this month when we come before God to ask for forgiveness of our sins over the past year.

If we consider that Rosh Hashanah is a new year celebration, it seems to make sense that the annual reading cycle of the Torah should be associated with it. But God said (Exodus 12:2) that the new year begins on the first day of Aviv (in Hebrew this means “Spring”), which has been renamed to Nissan. Therefore, if God says that is our new year, why isn’t Simchat Torah also celebrated at that time?

I don’t really know if anyone has the answer to that. From the little research I did, it seems that the three-year reading cycle was the norm in Israel until the Babylonian exiles returned to Jerusalem, taking many of the Babylonian influences with them, such as the names of the months and the annual reading cycle, which led to this holiday beginning sometime in the Second Millennia.

For me, it makes sense that Simchat Torah could be celebrated either at the beginning of the Holy Day cycle (before Passover) or at the end of the Holy Day cycle (Sh’mini Atzeret, the eighth day after Sukkot) because each is an annual cycle. The connection to Sh’mini Atzeret, though, makes more sense because that is after we have been cleansed of our sins and just finished an entire week living in Sukkot, to commemorate the way God took care of our ancestors and how they could commune with him because his presence was among them in their camp.

The Torah is more than a list of commandments; it tells us who God is. He reveals himself to Moses and, thereby, to us and that is why I think it is best celebrated after Sukkot. In Judaism, it is said that the reason God told us to have an eighth day added to Sukkot is that he so enjoyed being with his people for those 7 days that he added an additional day. And when we turn the Torah back to the beginning, it is like reliving that first kiss.

For me, that is the true joy we get from Simchat Torah -to get to know God all over again.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Beresheet (In the Beginning) Genesis 1:1 – 6:8

Chag Simchat Torah!!  This is the holiday where we turn back the Torah, from the end of Deuteronomy to the beginning of everything: Genesis. Simchat Torah means “Joy of Torah”, and we certainly do receive joy from reading the Word of God!

This parashah takes us from creation of the universe and everything in it to just before the story of Noah. God created the universe, Earth, sky, ground, set boundaries for the oceans, created life in the seas, on the land and finally created us. That’s when things started going downhill.

All through the early stages of creation we read how “God saw that it was good”, and it was. I mean, REALLY good! And when Adam and Eve got here, things were still OK, Then the enemy got involved. He lured Eve into sin, and she lured Adam into sin, and ….well, you know the rest of the story.

But was it all the fault of the enemy? Did Satan do anything that forced Eve to eat the apple? Did Eve ram it down Adam’s throat? Did she threaten him with, “Eat this apple or you will be sleeping on the couch (that is, if we had a couch)”?

No, Satan didn’t force Eve, Eve didn’t force Adam, and even to this day no one forces us to sin. We’ve always had a choice, and we still do. The problem isn’t that we don’t have a choice, the problem is that it is just so much easier to sin. It is what the world teaches us to do, it is what we instinctively desire, and it generally yields immediate satisfaction. Whereas righteousness is hard to do- we have to overcome our sinful desires (iniquity), we have to deal with other people harassing us (because they don’t want to see righteousness in their presence- it convicts them), and we have to delay the rewards of righteousness until a future time. Righteousness usually doesn’t have immediate gratification, other than we know, in our hearts, that we are doing the right thing.

Let’s tackle what is probably the biggest issue that comes from Genesis- creationism vs. evolution.

Way back when, sometime around July of 1925, a substitute teacher in Tennessee named John Scopes taught human evolution. This was a violation of the Tennessee Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in a state-funded school. Scopes was found guilty, fined $100, but that was later overturned on a technicality. The funny thing about this is that today, according to Wikipedia:

In the United States, the Supreme Court has ruled the teaching of creationism as science in public schools to be unconstitutional, irrespective of how it may be purveyed in theological or religious instruction. In the United States, intelligent design (ID) has been represented as an alternative explanation to evolution in recent decades, but its “demonstrably religious, cultural, and legal missions” have been ruled unconstitutional by a lower court.

So what was illegal to teach in 1925 is now the only legal thing to teach! Oy!

Even within Judaism, some of the greatest Jewish scholars and Torah teachers knew that the Genesis story was not to be taken literally. Rashi, known to be one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) Jewish commentator of all times, taught that the purpose of Scripture was not to give a strict chronology of Creation. Also, Maimonides (the RamBam) declared, ” The account given in Scripture of the Creation is not, as is generally believed, intended to be in all its parts literal.” The remarkable truth is that Judaism does not contest the evolution of species. Where the disagreement lies is with what drives evolution. The atheistic scientific community states that evolution is caused by random mutations,  where those mutations which proved more adaptable to the environment succeeded and the less adaptable mutations died out. Charles Darwin put forth this idea as the survival of the fittest.  Judaism (along with most Judeo-Christian and Muslim religions) does not accept that the advancement of species from lower order to higher order came from chance, but from Divine control. We call this Intelligent Design. The truth is, the answer to whether we were created or we evolved is, as it always has been: Does God exist?

If God exists, then we have intelligent design, and if there is no God, then it all happened by chance.

I can understand the depression and uselessness that people who reject God feel in their daily lives; after all, if everything you wanted to be or wanted to achieve was totally out of your control (because without God there is no control), then what hope do you have? Only the hope that some random collision of quarks in a sub-atomic environment will result, somehow, in circumstances and events which will benefit you. Not very promising, is it? Especially when compared to having a supreme being, who is loving, compassionate, all-powerful, knowing everything that there is and everything that will ever be, on your side helping you to attain those things you want.

I mean, really- there’s no comparison. But yet, millions (if not billions) of people who have heard about God will still reject Him and choose to live their lives with no hope, no control, and no future (because without God, there is no future beyond this life. Again, a very depressing and hopeless existence.)

I wrote about how there is no control without God in this blog: Without God There Cannot be Free Will.

Genesis tells us how everything in the universe started, and whether you accept God created it or believe it randomly occurred, life has always been what we make of it. We always have a choice to do, say, and act the way we want to. And what we choose to believe will define who and what we are.

For me, I choose to believe in God; I choose to believe that He created the entire universe for me and provided everything I need to survive; I choose to believe that God also provided a spiritual means for me to live eternally despite my own fatal flaw of iniquity ( yes, I am talking about Yeshua/Jesus); and I choose to believe that because God exists and because I accepted Yeshua as my Messiah, I have a future beyond this mortal existence.

Those without God have no future: they only have this life, and will have to spend it in this world without control, without hope, and without the complete joy that comes from God’s Holy Spirit indwelling in us.

And that is just so sad.

Parashah B’resheet (In the Beginning) Genesis 1-6:8

This past Monday, the 24th, was the celebration of Sh’mini Atzeret, the Eighth Day. This is also called Simchat Torah, or Joy of Torah. The joy is that we read the last sentence or two of D’varim (Deuteronomy) and then, as the congregation sings songs of joy, we turn the Torah back (you can get real “Popeye” arms from doing this!) to the start, and read the first sentence or two of B’resheet (Genesis.) The Parashot readings are usually over a one year cycle, but some synagogues will read the Torah over a three year cycle. In either case, Simchat Torah will always be on the eighth day of Sukkot.

This first parashah takes us from nothingness to just before God causes the flood. Of course, even in the nothingness of a universal void, God already was there. What was for Mankind the very beginning of everything was just another eon for God.

For the Jewish people, reading the Torah is joy, and the Haftorah portions and traditional Holy Day readings incorporate most of the rest of the Tanakh. But for many Christian people, they never get to know who Yeshua (Jesus) really is because they separate the Torah and the Old Covenant writings from the New Covenant. This is mainly because we are all taught, both Jews and Gentiles, that these books represent two separate religions. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Traditional teaching is that the “God” of the Old Covenant is vengeful, violent and strict, whereas the “God” of the New Covenant is, essentially, Jesus (real name- Yeshua), and I say that because whereas the O.C. is all about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the N.C. talks about God only as “the Father”, and He gets second billing to Jesus. The O.C. God has the Jews kill nations and depopulate Canaan, He kills His own people, He is strict, He has all these rules and laws and commandments, He requires sacrifices, He has His prophets call fire from heaven on people, yadda-yadda-yadda. That O.C. God is a real meanie. Oh, but the N.C. God, this nice, quiet, calm and totally loving Jesus is nothing like that. He is all about love, He is all about forgiveness, and acceptance, and peace. He cried at Lazarus’s tomb. He is such a nice boy, to make His mother proud.

Get real, people- Jesus was (and still is) His Father’s son! Did Jesus ever say anything nice, loving, compassionate or forgiving about the Pharisees? As I recall, He called them white-washed sepulchers, full of dead man’s bones. And what about those quiet, society-serving businessmen that were helping people to buy sacrificial animals and exchanging monies in the Temple courts? They were serving the people, and Jesus whipped them, over-turned their tables and (without using bad language) cursed them out. He told His followers they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood; He told His followers that He came to separate families and turn fathers against sons, and mothers against daughters; He said people had to crucify themselves if they wanted to follow Him. He even called-out one of His best friends: when Kefa (Peter) voiced how upset he would be if anything bad happened to Jesus, instead of lovingly hugging him for being so concerned, Jesus called him Satan- He said, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” He didn’t say, “C’mon, Pete- get with the program” or “Thank you, Brother, for the kind concern but I must do my Father’s work.” No- Jesus chewed Peter out, in front of everyone!

As we start to read the O.C.  again, let’s remember (and if you never learned this before, then learn it now) that these are NOT separate stories about two separate religions: it is the same story, the same religion, the same God and the same Messiah.

  • The O.C. starts with absolutely nothing in existence. It then tells how God created everything, chose a people, developed them, grew them despite everyone else in the world trying to kill them; gave them His rules for how to worship and honor Him, and how to treat each other. It tells how He set them up in their own land so that from there He could rule them, and they were to be an example and a blessing to the world. Finally, through His chosen people, His Torah (which means teachings, not laws) and His Messiah, the entire world would find salvation from their sins and have eternal communion with Him. It ends with the overthrow of Jerusalem, destruction of the Temple, and the dispersion of the Jewish people throughout the known world.
  • The N.C. is the continuation, taking over where the O.C. left off, with the coming of the promised Messiah who taught the Jews the hidden meanings of the Torah that they had not discovered. Jesus taught them how to live the Torah to it’s fullest, both physically and spiritually, and that He was there to finalize the Almighty’s plan of salvation by becoming the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin. Because we all failed to live in accordance with Torah, Yeshua ha Maschiach (Yeshua the Messiah) completed God’s plan of salvation by overcoming, with His own blood, those sins that we could not overcome on our own. We then read how His story spread and how salvation came to both Jews and Gentiles. The N.C. ends as the O.C. began,  with a brand new beginning.

If I was to write a dust jacket for the (entire) Bible, it would be something like this:

A wonderful love story of the one and only God and how He fulfilled His plan to create Mankind and provide an eternal paradise for them. There is action, death, rebellion, supernatural events, romance, treachery and despite what seems to be the total destruction of God’s plan, there is a happy ending for those that find the truth and accept the salvation provided for them. It can be hard to understand in parts, and sometimes the story line drags a little, but it delivers a satisfying read with many messages that are appropriate for both the individual and the society. Overall, I give it two thumbs up! (Available in both paper and digital format.) 

If you think that the O.C. is for Jews and the N.C. is all Christians really need to know, try reading the second book in a series without reading the first one. After you do that, then read the first book, and you will see how much you were missing. It is the same with the Old and New Covenants- please believe me when I tell you these are one book, one story, one God (the same one in both) and one Messiah, promised in the first book and delivered in the second. With one beginning and one ending, which is a new beginning.

That new beginning at the end of the bible is when the new heaven and the new earth are created for the survivors of the destruction of the old earth; it is a new paradise.

Start your year right now, with a new beginning of understanding and a new realization of the symmetry and synergy between the Old and New Covenants. Read from Genesis all the way through Revelations, and see how it all fits perfectly. If you are Jewish and have never read the New Covenant, invest in your eternity and buy a Messianic version just so that you can get passed some of the subtle anti-Semitic intonations of the King James and NIV versions. However, even those versions will give you an idea, if you are willing to look, of the Jewishness of the New Covenant. Jesus’s real name is Yeshua, meaning God’s Salvation, and He was, is and always will be identified as a Jewish man, the Son of the God of the Jews. That is an unfortunate label, because God is not the God of the Jews, He is God- the one and only God, and the God of everyone and everything. He has no religion, He has His commandments, rules and regulations for worshiping Him and treating each other.

That’s all there is- worship God and treat each other as you would want to be treated. All the rest falls into place if you do those two things.

Chag Sameach! (Happy Holidays) and may God bless you in your endeavor to know Him better, to serve Him with love and faithful obedience, and may you be a blessing to others.

Parashah Bereshith (Genesis 1 – 6:8) In the Beginning

What can I say about the creation of mankind?

Don’t worry- I’ll find something, I’m sure.

Seriously, I re-read this parashah and saw something that I hadn’t seen before- it was when I was reading the commentary in my Soncino Edition of the Chumash. The Rabbi talks about how the second chapter is not a different creation, but a defining of certain parts of the the general description of creation given in Chapter 1. That made me think how Yeshua did not redefine the Torah but defined it; in other words, as Chapter 2 of the bible gives more specifics so we better understand Chapter 1, Yeshua gave us a more specific, deeper understanding of the Torah. He didn’t re-write it or create a new religion (you can blame that one on Constantine), all He did was more accurately tell us what God meant. He taught us more than the letter of the Torah- He taught us the spirit of it.

I also see in this parashah the entire plan of salvation. We start with nothingness, which becomes formation of the earth, the separation of land and sea, earth and sky, growth of vegetation, creation of animal life and, finally, creation of man and woman and life in perfect communion with God. Then what happens is sin, which comes between people and God, causing the separation from His constant presence. We no longer are able to commune with God in both the physical and spiritual realms simultaneously- the garden is out of reach for us from that point on. Next we see the sin of disobedience to God grow into the sin of covetousness leading to aggression- Cain murders his brother. Then that sin leads to more sin when Cain lies to God.

We went from perfect communion with God in a paradise to expulsion into a cursed world where sin is growing as fast as the population. And the sin continues to grow to such a level that God has to intervene and destroy the sin that abounds in everyone. Well, nearly everyone- in all the earth there is only one who is favored by God, and that one is Noah.

What I see this morning in this parashah that I hadn’t seen before is that Noah is the first representation of Yeshua; through one man sin entered the world and through one man the world will be saved (you can find that in Romans 5, 1 Corinthians and I think it is also in Hebrews.) The difference is that Yeshua will save those who are living from spiritual death. Noah didn’t save anyone from spiritual death, or even physical death, but he was the salvation of mankind, meaning that through him mankind would be revived and continue to survive.

Through Noah mankind received a second chance to live on earth, and through Yeshua mankind received a second chance to live in paradise.

There is another reference to salvation- a new creation. The earth and all that was on it was destroyed, except for the select of animals and men. A human family, 7 pair of clean animals and one pair of unclean animals (there was Kosher even before there was Kosher!) were saved through one man- Noah. His righteousness was their salvation, and through his descendants, the salvation of humankind. Just like Isaiah 53:

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Unfortunately, as we all know, this new start was not much better than the old start, but God had promised no more floods, so He is still standing by and waiting for the right time to finish this and start anew. We are not quite there yet (although I believe we are really, really close), but this time He will do it once and for all.

I think it is amazing that there is so much in God’s word that we read, over and over, and never see until the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) opens our eyes, our spiritual eyes, to see what God has had there for us for millennia.

Maybe this interpretation, this Drash that I present to you, isn’t so new. Maybe it’s been discussed by many others before; in fact, I am sure it has been. I’m not so great that I am going to open up the world to a new truth from the word of God. But I like it- I like how suddenly it seems so clear to me. Perfection is ruined by sin, sin takes over the weak and faithless, the elect (those who remain faithful) are saved from the world’s destruction, and we are given new life in a new world. And in the new world the rules change: before the flood there was no rain but after sin entered the world we need the rains or we have no food; the cultivation of God’s creation has gone from very easy to very hard. Before the flood all life ate of only the herbs and the fruit that was provided in the garden, but now we eat the animals and the animals eat each other (and us.)

Maybe after this world is gone and the final, new creation is here we will go back to a vegetarian way of life, the lion and the lamb will lie together because they also will go back to being vegetarians, and the cultivation of God’s creation will again be simple. We will be constantly in God’s presence, as it was in the beginning. This time, though, we won’t have trees that we can eat from and trees we can’t because those of us who are saved through Messiah will already have the knowledge of good and evil, and having had this knowledge while living in the world but still remaining faithful will entitle us to the eternal life that was refused to Adam and Eve.

There won’t be need for rules in the new creation because the Torah will be written on our hearts, and as has been proven time and time again throughout history, what is on our hearts is what guides our actions. Today the hearts of people are full of sinfullness, so sinfullness is what we do. When the Torah is written on our hearts, then Torah will be what we will do.

The Rabbi’s says that Torah should be a mirror, so when we look in it we see ourselves. That is not true today, but it will be in the new creation. That’s what Shaul (Paul) means when he tells us that now we see dimly through a glass (1 Corinthians 13) but then we will see clearly. Sin clouds our sight (as well as our judgement) but in the new creation we will see clearly.

I love Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah- the eighth day of Sukkot) because we get to start reading God’s word all over again. His word is who He is, so the more I read it the more familiar I am with it, and the more familiar I am with it the closer I am to God.

How close are you to God? If you want to be closer to God, then get more familiar with His word.

Parashah Bereshith (In the Beginning)

This Shabbat we joyfully open our Torah, and just like in this parashah , we begin at the beginning.

This first of the cycle of parashot is a little long, going all the way to Chapter 6, verse 8. It covers the beginning of everything, takes us through creation of man, Cain and Abel, and ends with God’s reluctantly regretting His creation and deciding He needs to start over. The whole Earth is full of sin and wickedness, all except Noah.

What I see in this is the entire plan of God’s salvation. I see creation, the world forming, people coming to know each other and God, then rejecting His rules and killing each other, lusting after their own desires. I see God patiently waiting for people to come back to their senses, which will eventually lead them back to God. But it doesn’t happen. Noah is the only righteous one in the world, and through him there will be a new life, a new beginning, and his descendants will live in a new Earth that will be formed from the remains of the previous one.

It’s not a perfect picture of the Messiah and the Tribulations, true, but I see the same elements in this parashah as we will see when all things come to pass. We have mankind (Adam and Eve) in union with God, but then they break their union by sinning. They are mercifully allowed to live, but no longer in perfect communion as they are ejected from God’s presence. They are fruitful and multiply (one of the more enjoyable commandments to fulfill) but sin is still here, in a cursed world, and although there are some who will form a union with God (Abel), there are those who will not (Cain). And we see that evil will hate and attack righteousness, out of jealousy and frustration. These emotions are the children of the mother of all sin, Pridefulness. Cain’s pride was hurt when God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but rejected his. The Soncino version of the Chumash explains that Abel gave the best he had and his heart was right, but Cain’s heart was not right and his sacrifice was, therefore, unacceptable. Cain’s pridefulness resulted in jealousy, which led to the inevitable result: murder.

Here’s my take on the way things played out, and (if I may say so) I think it is a good template for most every sin:

1.Cain’s pride prevented him from humbling himself;

2. Unhumbled, his frustration grew each time his sacrifice, still unacceptable, was rejected;

3. His frustration grew into anger as he continually saw Abel accepted while he was continually rejected;

4. His anger grows, and without humbling himself he couldn’t direct it at the source (himself) so he projected it against God and Abel;

5. Cain couldn’t do anything against God but he could take out his anger on Abel;

6. Result: the first murder.

Maybe the ultimate sinful expression of our own situation won’t be murder (God forbid!) but it could show itself as gossip, maybe hating in our heart (which Yeshua said is murder, anyway), maybe violence, verbal abuse, adultery, who knows? I believe that pridefulness is the foundation stone upon which almost every sin rests. It is a vicious cycle.

Now the world’s population grows and sin grows with it. There is righteousness, which we see coming through Seth’s bloodlines, but (just like today) the sin is greater than the righteousness. Even in the beginning, those who are God fearing are but a remnant, and it has remained that way even until today. Ultimately, judgement comes with only one chance of survival, and that is through only one man, Noah.

I am not saying that Noah is the Messiah, or ever was supposed to be. What I am saying is just that I see the plan of salvation being shown to us, in a way, in this parashah. It is a “teaser”, like the TV commercial about a new movie shows you pretty much what the story is about, without giving away the details. Creation, sin, loss of perfect communion with God, sin vs. right throughout the world, one righteous man chosen to begin a new relationship with God, judgement and destruction, renewal and a new beginning on a new Earth.

Of course, with Noah things started going downhill almost right away. We can be thankful that with Yeshua, and the “real” final judgement, those  of us who are of the remnant (the Believers who follow God’s laws and commandments as He gave them, not as religion tells us)  will have eternal communion with God, basking in His presence. We will see the new Heavens and the new Earth, and we will return to the way it was in the beginning, before sin entered the picture.

Every Simchat Torah we can look forward to what the Torah, and particularly this parashah, is showing us- that we will return to Gat Eden, we will once again be in the physical presence of the Lord God (Adonai Elohim), and we will be eternally joyful and serene.

I love each time I start reading God’s Word all over again.

Where’s Your Bible?

I suppose that just about everyone reading this ministry blog has a Bible, aka The Manual. If you are reading this and you don’t have one, please find one. You can always go online to Bible study sites, but it is best if you have one in your hand, paper and binding, so that you hold it. It is to be loved and cherished, and you can’ t do that with an I-pad. Also, I challenge everyone to not take what I say as true, but to look it up in the Manual and verify for yourself the veracity of what I say. I try to discipline myself to never teach about what is in the Bible that you can’t go in there and find for yourself, and I pray that God leads my teachings to reflect only what is right in His eyes. Besides that, you need to develop the habit of checking what you are told.

Someone once told me never believe what you hear, and I took it with a grain of salt. 

So, nu? Where’s your Bible? Is it on a shelf? Is it in a place of honor (collecting dust)? Wanna know where mine is? 

It’s in my bathroom. That’s right- right there on top of the toilet covering the Readers Digest from April of 1995. 

Oy! How disrespectful! How could you do that to the Word of God? 

Before I answer that, let me ask you, “Is it really disrespectful to keep my Bible in the bathroom?” I am sure some of you will say yes, and some will say no, and some just won’t know. That’s how it is with questions.

As you are thinking about your answer, let me submit what I think is the most disrespectful way to keep your Bible: to keep it closed. Whether on a shelf, prominently displayed in a case, or under the table leg to keep the table steady, in my opinion not reading your Bible is disrespectful to the Word of God. He gave us His word so we would know how to worship, how to live, and (consequently) how to be saved from ourselves. He tells us how we got here, where we are going, and about Messiah, who will lead us to Him, forever. It’s all there, but it’s useless if you don’t read it.

“Oh, but I go to church every Sunday”, or “I attend synagogue every Shabbat. When I’m there they tell me what it says.” Lazybones! That’s not going to float your Salvation, Brothers and Sisters. You need to read it, for yourself. You need to let the Ruach guide you. There are three levels of understanding when reading the Bible: the P’Shat (written word- that’s all you get when you listen to someone else read the Bible), the Drash (this is like reading between the lines- it is a hidden message that the Ruach makes clear to you), and the Sud ( this is a deeply spiritual, almost mystical understanding that comes from Ruach-led reading and a deep knowledge of the Word). 

I don’t believe you can really get the deepest and most fulfilling understanding of what God wants to tell you if you don’t hold the book in your hands and read it. 

“But I am sooooooo busy! I have my job, I work out, and then the kids take up all my free time. I really want to read the Bible every day, that’s my intention, but I just don’t get to it.”

Every hear this old adage: The road to hell is paved with good intentions? 

Look, I had kids, I worked a job with a 2-hour commute (one-way) and I know what “too pooped to poop” means. So, take the Bible to work and read it on the train or bus. If you drive, take it to work and read it during your break or lunch.

Or, do what I do- leave it in the bathroom. The Bathroom! Ah, yes! The one and only place where everybody can be guaranteed about 10 minutes of peace and quiet every day, alone with their thoughts. That’s why I keep my Bible in the bathroom. I read at least one chapter every time I…, well, let’s just say I read a chapter daily.

Is this a disrespectful place ? I dunno! Maybe it is, but it is not disrespectful that I read His word every day. And it is not disrespectful that I come to Him as humbled as can be (what’s more humble than on a toilet seat?) I can even say every day I come before His throne while on my throne.

Ouch!! Okay, maybe that was a little too far.  🙂

Seriously, though, I do not believe it disrespectful, otherwise I certainly wouldn’t do it. And because of where I keep my Bible, I easily get to read a chapter or two every day. I like to go in order, from the beginning of Genesis straight through to the end of Revelations. When I reach the end, I do what every Jewish person does on Simchat Torah, which is to take great joy in turning back the Torah (in my case, I go to the front of the book) and starting all over again. I don’t like the idea of these daily devotionals that skip around and jump all over the book. I know that it is OK to do so, in that what I read in one place will confirm what I read in other places (this is known as hermeneutics), but the book has a rhythm, a pace, and a hierarchy. How can I really feel the pain of watching Judea fall deeper and deeper into sin as we approach the end of 2 Kings if I am in 2 Kings, then John I, then Leviticus, then Mark, then…then…then…?  I want to feel the joy as God reveals Himself and I want to feel the pain as we fall further and further from His grace through our own sin. I don’t want to just have someone tell me what it says, I want to live it. I want to experience the full emotions of the history of my salvation. I can only get that from reading it and letting the Ruach Ha Kodesh lead my understanding. After more than 17 years of being saved and having read the Bible cover to cover dozens of times, I still get chills and cry at certain parts. And I thank God that I do: I don’t ever want to become inured to His word.

I’ll ask again: where’s your Bible? If you aren’t reading a chapter every day, and it’s not in the bathroom, maybe you should put it there?