As Christians we stand on God’s word and Truth. It is after all profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that we might be equipped for every good work. But what about the boring bits?
Wow, did I just refer to parts of the bible as boring? Well, if we’re honest we all find parts a lot less interesting than others. Reading the Bible from the beginning I always get stumped at Leviticus. Then there are those first 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles. But, a recent preach in our church got me thinking about these passages, why are they there and what are they saying, teaching, correcting and training us in?
I have much to thank my paster Joel Virgo for, over the last couple of years especially, as his faithful and challenging preaching has really helped me with the battles and faith required to get OneSheep up and running. Much of the basis for what I want to talk about here comes from his current series in Nehemiah. Check it out sometime.
So, long boring passages in the Bible, why shouldn’t they bore us and what do they help us understand? First, we need to remind ourselves that God is the greatest Author, Creator and Editor in the universe. Second, the Bible is the best selling book of all time.
Next as Joel insightfully points out, the fact we find it boring tells us something about ourselves and the perspective from which we read or hear it from, rather than the perspective of the one telling us or writing it for us. Your subjective and emotional reaction is not the final authority on whether this passage or any piece of information for that matter, is valuable or not.
As an example, I can have a masterpiece painting in my loft that I have no idea what it really is, all I know is I don’t much like it. It doesn’t strike me as aesthetically appealing so I sell it at a car boot sale for a £1. An art collector may pick it up and realise it’s a long lost Picasso worth millions, yet I have attributed value based on my own subjective feelings.
With works of art we can simply argue it’s neither here nor there, it’s worth really what anyone is willing to pay for it. But with the Bible, we don’t have that luxury. The first nine chapters of Chronicles talks about God’s family, his people, your family, your people if you’re a Christian. God loves his children, he takes time to name them one by one, they are important to him and more important than any of your subjective concerns or day to day pleasures.
The principle here is that when we see these passages in the Bible we need to change our perspective and understand the value and importance that God is putting on it. Think about, why is it here, what is it teaching us, how is it useful for training in righteousness and being equipped for every good work.
So, rather than being bored I was quite delighted to read Exodus 28, with it’s precise details and description of Aaron’s priestly clothing. God has written a detailed design spec to outline exactly what the final items of clothing should look like. Where God could have said “make it practical”, or “make it beautiful using all the best materials”, he goes way beyond to specify the colours, the stones, the stitching, the weaving and precise placement of everything.
God knew exactly what this would look like in his mind’s eye and was describing precisely what the end result should be like.
Further more, he doesn’t just want it thrown together by anyone, he specifically asks for the skilful, whom he has filled with a spirit of skill.
God has a passion for Excellence and a passion for Design — together.
Of course Exodus 28 isn’t the only example of this, there are plenty of detailed design specifications and instructions throughout the bible. From the Tabernacle, to the Ark of the Covenant, right through to the glorious vision John is given in Revelation describing the design of the new heavens and new earth.
So the next project you start work on or planning for, consider design. Give it the prominence and status it deserves among the projects concerns. It’s far more than aesthetics and far more than just structure. Good design can be the difference between success and failure, profit and loss, engagement or rejection.
Good design requires time, skill and resources. Don’t skimp on it or think you can throw it together yourself to save on costs. Allow designers in as early as you can on a project and value their input as things take shape, and respect the process.
In each of the biblical examples God is showing his attention to details, both practical and aesthetic ones. God shows his care for the craftsmanship and quality of the end result and we should too. Lest we forget the pinnacle of his creation, one which science continues to shed further light on it’s detail, intricacy, cleverness and of course beauty — you and me.