Studying the Word of God is a means of feeding the soul. The spiritual banquet that can be enjoyed is prepared in the same manner as preparing a meal. First, the ingredients are selected and gathered together. Second, they are cooked; and third, they are set out in a way that is attractive.
When a subject is being studied, the passages of Scripture relating to this have to be gathered together. It differs from the study of a chapter, or a verse, in that material will be found throughout the Word of God. The “cooking” takes place when the gathered Scriptures are carefully considered. Let them settle in the mind and, when it is possible, bring them to the front of your thought processes. When the Word of God is your delight (Ps 1:2) this is not troublesome. As the Scripture “bubbles” away in your brain, the understanding of it increases. But although the cooking process prepares the food, the next stage is necessary if it is to be given to others to share; it has to be set out in an orderly and attractive manner.
To do all this you need tools. The AV version and the New Translation of J. N. Darby would be a good start. The AV is good for study, and do not say that you cannot understand it. I remember many brethren who left school at fourteen and could understand it. Strong’s concordance backed up by Wigram’s is vital. But you can now use your e-Sword or Online Bible to get the information that previous generations had to mine slowly from these books. Support all this with a collection of sound expository volumes.
Now get your notebook ready and take notes as you go along. First, read carefully the Scriptures that refer to the subject. Make sure that your computer Bible software allows you to compare versions and provide the meanings of words, including the tenses of verbs. Remember also that one word in the original text may be translated a number of different ways. It is vital, therefore, to give attention to Strong’s number in order to trace the original word through Scripture. I note that the word “priest” in the OT has Strong’s number of 3548 and the TWOT1 number of 959. What, then, is a priest? TWOT defines the word as “serving as a minister.” The Greek word used in the NT means “one who offers sacrifice.”2 The priest is, therefore, one who serves God by the offering of sacrifices. What interest to the student now is the use of the words “priest,” “offering,” or “sacrifice”?
Now it is useful to look at the first mention of “priest” in the Scriptures. The first mention of a work or an action is most important and is valuable in any study. “Priest” is found first in Genesis 14:18 where Melchizedek is revealed as “priest of the most high God.” Who was he and what do you learn when you read His name in the NT? But the offering of sacrifices was carried out earlier. The first are those that were offered by Cain and Abel (Gen 4:3-4). Noah also offered sacrifices when he left the ark after the flood (Gen 8:20). So priestly worship has been offered since the days of Adam.
But as you peruse the Word of God you find that the books of Exodus and Leviticus have much to say about priesthood. There was a new order of priesthood introduced. It consisted of the family of Aaron and his sons and one of the purposes of this was to teach us how priests function and the sanctuary where they do so. No one can gain an understanding of priesthood, therefore, without reading these books. Exodus will tell you of the raising of the Sanctuary, and Leviticus is the handbook for the priests, teaching them how to function. These books do not simply introduce old customs that no longer have any significance. Remember, “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning” (Rom 15:4).
With your notebook still beside you turn to the NT Scriptures. Teaching concerning priesthood did not cease with the book of Malachi. Three books, Hebrews, 1 Peter, and Revelation, use the words “priest,” or “priesthood,” and Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Hebrews, 1 Peter, and Revelation refer to sacrifices. This poses important questions to which you must find the answers. Who are priests today? Where do they worship? What do they offer as sacrifices? Aaron was the first High Priest of Israel’s priesthood, but who is the High Priest today?
The answer to the first of these questions is in 1 Peter 2:6, 9. Believers today form the priesthood. The purpose of this article is not to expound the subject but to tell young believers how to approach it. Now search the Scriptures and get the answers to the other questions.
How do you store the fruit of your labor? It is important to keep notebooks. You may also wish to write notes in a wide margin Bible. However, be careful of this because today’s brilliant thought may, with added understanding, be something you would rather forget.
If you use a computer, create two directories. In one open a folder for each book in the Bible and in the other a folder for every subject you tackle. Become a hoarder of notes. Scan in any helpful written notes from books and magazines or what you have heard at conferences, etc. But prepare your own and carefully file them. Remember that other people’s notes can help but are not enough on their own.
No matter how much you study you can return to the same book or subject for, unlike other books, the Bible is fresh with new things no matter how often you have read it. Students of the Word become Bible addicts. Go in for that and you will mine golden truths that will be precious to your soul.
1 Theological Word Book of the Old Testament
2 Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words