I was chatting with Noah Schnee yesterday, and I asked him if he’d read anything good recently. He said that he just finished a book called “Exodus.” He said that Act One was thrilling, but the Second Act was tediously crammed with technical minutiae. For instance, here’s an excerpt from chapter XXVII, “You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad. The altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. And you shall make horns for it on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and fire pans. You shall make all its utensils of bronze. You shall also make for it a grating, a network of bronze, and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. And you shall set it under the ledge of the altar so that the net extends halfway down the altar. And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. And the poles shall be put through the rings, so that the poles are on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. You shall make it hollow, with boards. As it has been shown you on the mountain, so shall it be made.”
As Noah and I bantered about the possible relevance of such details, it dawned on us that God Himself would’ve processed these details as a human being who asked questions and subsequently increased in wisdom and stature. There was a moment in Jesus’ life when he would’ve read “Exodus” for the first time, and he was no doubt curious and full of questions as he considered details like: the specific kind of wood used to construct the altar, and the precisely prescribed dimensions and shape, and the particular overlaying metal, and the various instruments and tools, and the strict protocol for transporting the altar, etc. In fact, when Jesus was 12 years old he went missing for a few days and when his parents finally found him it was discovered that he had been sitting among teachers in the temple for multiple days listening to them and asking them questions.
Bottom line, to feast upon the bible involves asking questions. The bible actually commands us to ask questions, and even insists that we pose questions to God as an integral part of our worship of Him! For example, Psalm XIII begins with a barrage of questions, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” Moreover, Jesus demands that we ‘become childlike’ (Matthew 18:3; Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17), which emphatically and indispensably involves constant question asking. We will only grow in wisdom and stature to the extent that we embrace God’s command to be like curious children.
Most people who commit to reading through the entire Bible hit a wall around Exodus chapter XXI. The details and minutiae strike us as laborious, and we lose interest. If we expect to stay engaged with what God is saying to us, then we must read the bible WITH Jesus. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:5); and very practically speaking, we need Jesus to help us ask questions and fuel our curiosity about the content of Scripture! We need Jesus to intimately and incessantly join us in our bible study, because he’s the best one to perennially point out that the entire bible is about Him (Luke 24:27), and he’s the one best suited to show us how to ask questions about the astonishing specifics revealed throughout Scripture.