Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pride Cometh Before the Deity's Use of Literary Devices



I recently was mocking some of my friends because I have finally finished reading the Wheel of Time series, and most of them had not. The Wheel of Time is an incredible series that spans 15 books and caps out at nearly 4.5 million words, and it's generally considered one of the greatest series of the last 50 years within the Epic Fantasy genre.

Somewhere in the middle of my smugness about finishing the Wheel of Time, I was reading verses from Ezekiel in the Religion class that I teach (I'm a Campus Minister and Religion teacher at a Catholic High School, and I teach from the Bible to Sophomores and Seniors). To my embarrassment, I didn't have much to say to my class about Ezekiel because I had never read that book of the Bible. I had been going off of another teacher's notes, and as we ran into Ezekiel, the class seemed to hit a speed bump. Unfortunately, we had been cruising along at pretty high speeds in the class, so hitting Ezekiel was like going over a speed bump at 50mph.

And God used that moment to absolutely wreck me using the following verses from Ezekiel 3:1-4.

"And [God] said to me, "Son of man, eat what is before, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate, and it tasted sweet as honey in my mouth."

Perhaps to some of you God seems to be speaking primarily to Ezekiel, giving him commands. But as I read, I heard God condemning me for my own attitudes and behaviors. I was so proud and so self-congratulatory about having finished the Wheel of Time. And yet here I was, teaching a Religion class, not having read the source material we were teaching from.

You see, I haven't read the whole Bible. I know some portions very well -- the Gospels, St. Paul's letters, Genesis, the Psalms -- but I have never read most of books between Wisdom and the Holy Gospel of Matthew. And suddenly God made a terrible use of the literary device known as a "foil" by instantly convicting me of how wrong I have been in being proud of reading 4.5 million words of fiction, without having finished the 750 thousand words in Holy Scripture.

In those verses from Ezekiel, I heard God condemn my behavior and clearly lay out an immediate call to me. "Monty," God said to me, "you dare to go and teach My children without having first gone into my revealed Word in even the most superficial of ways through a single reading, and you expect to see results. You are being a fool. I've given you the ability to read, and you've exercised it in ways that have not put Me first. Go and read the entire Bible, immediately."

Perhaps some of you, like myself, have also not read the entire Bible. If so, I offer you the message that the Lord has repeated to Ezekiel, Jeremiah, to St. John:

"Eat this scroll, and taste the sweetness." 

I hope some of you consider joining me in reading the Bible before Christmas. Even if you've only ever read the Gospels, spending 60 minutes a day means you could read all of Sacred Scripture in about 60 days.

If you would like to read the Bible chronologically, consider the lists here, or see below for the short-and-sweet list.

Chronological Bible:

Genesis
Job
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy

Joshua
Judges
Ruth

1 Samuel
2 Samuel

Psalms
Proverbs
Wisdom of Solomon
Ecclesiastes
Song of Solomon

1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles

1 Kings
2 Kings
Tobit

Isaiah
Jeremiah
Baruch
Lamentations
Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakuk
Zephaniah

Judith
Esther
Ezra
Nehemiah

Ezekiel
Daniel

Haggai
Zachariah
Malachi

Sirach
1 Maccabees
2 Maccabees

And then the New Testament, straight through, as compiled in all Bibles.


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