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How should we read and find meaning in highly technical parts of the Bible, such as the laws presented in Leviticus or the censuses and lists of Numbers or 1 Chronicles?

Reading the Bible is an important faith practice. Some passages, however, are just hard to get through and don’t seem to give us much to think about. This means that reading them devotionally can be a real challenge.

The Bible is one coherent story made up of many different parts. Not only are there many human writers involved (although all of it is “God-breathed”), these writers come from many different times and different places and write to different audiences. Every part of the Bible was written at a particular time and place but speaks to all times and places.

This means that, just as with anything we read, we have to read differently depending on the type of literature we are encountering. Recognizing that not all passages are trying to do the same thing will help us adjust how we approach each passage we read. But all of the Bible was written to help us know and understand how God is working in the lives of his people.

The passages in Leviticus, for example, tell us that God cared for his people to the point that he even gave them detailed instructions on how to live and how to construct the tabernacle. As we read it we see that God’s holiness is something that God wanted his people to be reminded of continually. We also learn that the people, being sinful, needed to be cleansed of their sin over and over again. All of this points to the work that Jesus did once and for all to remove that sin from us.

As you read, try asking yourself questions like these: What can we learn about God from this passage? What is God telling us about his relationship with his people? To whom was this passage (or book) originally written? Don’t feel as if you have to do it all alone. Finding a good study Bible or some commentaries can help us notice things we might otherwise miss.

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