Each December many people contemplate setting goals for the next year. Some consider physical, economical or spiritual goals. I would venture to say for the believer reading through the Bible is a goal that affects all three areas. It is interesting to note that there are approximately 6900 languages in the world today and only about 2479 have some or part of the Bible translated in their own language. There are only around 450 that have a complete Bible in their own language. If you are reading this blog, then you have the Bible available in your language.
The Bible is unique among the ancient documents. It is the revelation of God redeeming man. God used people such as Moses and the prophets with sources such as stone, leather and clay to pass down the words of God from about 2000 BC. About 450 BC Ezra the priest is noted for compiling the Old Testament Books. Around 250-100 BC the Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) into the Greek language and it is what is called the Septuagint. “The Old Testament canon was meticulously cared for by a cadre of copyists commissioned to solemn task of preserving the text. The Dead Sea Scrolls remain an enduring testimony to the reverential awe with which they engaged their sacred task.” By the time of Christ the teaching of the Hebrew Bible was endorsed by Christ. Jesus said, “do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Jesus’ disciples continued the message of God by writing the teachings of Christ down on papyrus scrolls and the New Testament was completed by the end of the first century. In the 4th century the books were confirmed as the 27 books in the New Testament.
Although the Bible was preserved over the years it was often preached in Latin instead of the common language of the people. John Wycliffe spent his life conveying the message that the Word of God should be in the hands of the people. It was William Tyndale who worked off of Wycliffe’s efforts at translating the Bible into English in 1526 and was later burned at the stake in 1536 because of these endeavors. The challenges of getting the Bible in the hands of the people did not stop there, but the printing press and the Reformation further opened the doors of the common people being able to read the Word of God.
So, should it be a New Year’s goal to read it because people gave their resources and sometimes their life to get the Bible into the hands of the people? No, but there should be a deep appreciation for those that were handing down the truth of God’s Word. So what should be the reason to learn and share the Bible? First, it is God’s revelation of His redeeming love for His people. Second, it enlightens our eyes and gives us everything for life and godliness. Third, if we are disciples of Christ, we are commanded to teach all that He commanded. How can one teach what they do not know? Lastly, we should read it because Jesus gave His life so that we might know Him and left this revelation for those who believe.
For Further Reading
Statistics from Wycliffe International
Has God Spoken by Hank Hanegraaff
The Story of Christianity Justo L. Gonzalez
Why Trust the Bible? Rose Bible Basics