My hubby and I both have e-readers. With access to the same account, we can be reading the same book at the same time, and reading anywhere, including in the dark. We can check books out of our library and they are automatically returned in three weeks.
Writers and publishers wonder if electronics will replace books made of paper and ink. Christian leaders are also wondering but for different reasons. In our church of 500 or so, Scriptures projected on the wall and on the screens of smart phones mean that almost no one carries a Bible.
One Sunday, I helped in a class of three and four-year-olds whose topic that day was the value of the Word of God, but there were no Bibles in the room except mine. The story teller was forced to ‘pretend’ as she read a child’s version of the Bible story from a curriculum guide.
During the time just before the Israelites were taken captive into Babylon, the prophets rebuked them for their disobedience to God’s Word. They had it, but were ignoring it. The Lord said to them, “Behold, the days are coming when I will send a famine on the land — not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11–12)
God’s people rejected this warning from Amos and went into exile where there was no word from the Lord at all. Its absence left a great gaping hole in their lives, and they realized God’s revelation to them had been their most precious possession.
The psalms begin with this: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1–2)
Psalm 119 particularly lifts up the Word of God as precious in verses like these:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Psalm 119:18)
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:9–11)
Scripture had been valued, but by repeatedly rejecting God’s word, it was suddenly absent. At first, this severe judgment came to the priests, but eventually to the people as a whole for the same sin.
Jesus shows me one huge reason for needing Scripture. When tempted by Satan, He answered with the Word of God. He said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) The Word of God is the very source of spiritual life. We need it for renewal, guidance, and to feed our souls.
It is also vital in fighting the Liar, as Jesus did. Regarding my spiritual battles, I must wear the armor God gives for protection, and use my weapon, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
Of course, this sword can be read from a screen, but there is something ominous when so many Christians are not carrying the book. Does it indicate we are not reading it as much as we used to? Have we lost familiarity with its pages, where to find the cutting edge needed in our spiritual battles?
Maybe some do not read it because this sword works two ways. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
God’s Word drives the Liar from us, but also exposes those things in us that inclined our hearts to listen to our enemy instead of God. While learning all about my sinfulness is not exactly a pleasure, I know the spiritual danger if I decided not to read the Bible. Without God’s Word, I’d wind up in exile, held captive in a foreign place where I’d hunger for what I once had but not be able to find it.