An adventure found me in 2007 when a door opened for me to study the Bible in Egypt and Israel. I went to Israel and discovered that God is better than I ever knew. Learning the biblical story in its original cultural context introduced me to an entirely different way of seeing, processing, and interpreting the Bible.
It’s something I call the “Middle Eastern lens.”
Psalm 19 describes the Scriptures as being sweeter than honey from the comb. The Jewish people are visual, and they take God at his Word.
When they read the Scriptures, they don’t passively philosophize about them; rather, they set out to do what they read.
For instance, in Jewish preschools where Torah—the first five books of the Hebrew Bible or Christian Old Testament—are being taught to children, rabbis come to visit, and upon reading Psalm 19, they pass around a small vat of honey, inviting the children to dip their pinkie finger into it and taste it.
Then the rabbis will tell the children, “This is what the Word of God tastes like. You take it in, and it is good for you. You let it do its work.”
Jewish people don’t so much view it as reading the Word of God; rather, they view it as eating the Word of God.
They consume it.
They let it do what it wants to do.
The weekly Bible reading for Jewish people is called a parashah—translated as “portion” in English. Each day, Jews eat their parashah, their portion of the Word of God, by taking it in and allowing it to do whatever is necessary inside of them.
This posture is fundamentally different from approaching the Scriptures with a mindset that says we must dig something out to feed ourselves. That’s the posture of an orphan, the fatherless, the one who has to contend for themselves.
When we come to the Scriptures as sons and daughters, we recognize that God is inviting us to come ready to receive, to be fed.
I believe the best meals we can eat are the ones we don’t have to cook! The Bible is a meal—a table of fellowship—prepared for us.
We come postured to receive, to hear from the Lord, to take in everything God wants to say and then act upon it.
There is a difference between leaning inward and going down compared to looking up and out. The latter keeps us buoyant, giving us vision and a gaze set on the Lord. After all, if we stare at ourselves long enough, we’ll get depressed!
The Bible was given for us to first eat communally and then let that inform us individually. We are hungry for the Word of God.
We open our mouths and our hearts wide to the living God. We want to be simple in the way Psalm 19:7 defines it: open.We want the cares of the world to fall away so we can be all in as we eat the Word. We want God to say and do as He desires.
*For further reflection, listen to Psalm 19 today.
- Psalm 19