Isaiah 1:18, where the prophet says to Judah, “'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. '”


Scripture Engagement

What is Scripture engagement? Dr. Fergus Macdonald writes, “Scripture engagement is interaction with the biblical text in a way that provides sufficient opportunity for the text to speak for itself by the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling readers and listeners to hear the voice of God and discover for themselves the unique claim Jesus Christ is making upon them.”

The Bible itself teaches us how we are to approach God’s Word. Words the Bible uses include “meditate” (Psalm 1:2; Joshua 1:8), “reflect” (2 Timothy 2:7), “look intently” (James 1:25), “dwell” (Colossians 3:16), “ponder” (Psalm 119:95), “consider” (Jeremiah 2:31), and even “eat” (Jeremiah 15:16; Revelation 10:9-11). The phrase that summarizes this process is “Scripture engagement.”

Perhaps some images will help convey what is meant by “Scripture engagement.” One of the terms the Bible uses when describing how to approach it is the word “meditate.” In Psalm 1, we are told that the blessed person meditates day and night on the law. Also, in Psalm 63:6 we read, “When I remember you on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches (NKJV)...” Eugene Peterson, again in Eat This Book, tells us that the Hebrew word used here for meditate is hagah, the same word used in Isaiah 31:4, which speaks of a hungry lion growling over his prey. One way we are to approach the Bible is to meditate or “growl” over it. Picture a hungry lion, in all its power, focused, serious, and concentrated on every part of its meal, growling out of pleasure and intensity as it eats. We need to come to the Bible with purpose and intensity, wishing to catch every word God may have for us that will nourish our hungry souls. Do we too often come to the Bible casually, not really hungry, not really expecting to gain anything we might need? God’s Word is the food our souls desperately need. Too often we end up “spiritually anorexic” because we have starved ourselves from God’s Word (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).

Another “eating” metaphor used for Scripture engagement is “ruminating.” Picture a cow chewing its cud all day long. It takes a lot of grinding to get the nutrients out of grass, so the cow chews the grass over and over, bringing up old grass (“cud”) from one of four different sections of its stomach, each time reworking a mouthful. The cow needs the nutrients to live, so it patiently, slowly, “ruminates” on what it needs. We too should slowly, repeatedly “chew” on God’s Word throughout the day, recognizing that being with God gives us life. One quick pass at a verse or section of the Bible once a week is not enough. The passage needs to be gone over and over so we can fully savor it and be spiritually fed by it.

The whole idea of “eating” God’s Word has its foundation in a number of passages in the Bible, including Jeremiah 15:16, Ezekiel 3:1-3, and Revelation 10:9-11. It’s important to realize that, when the Apostle John “ate” God’s Word in Revelation 10:9-10, it tasted “sweet” in his mouth but turned “sour” in his stomach. God’s Word, while always true and good, is not always easy to absorb because it calls us to obey and trust. Meeting with God is not a “tame” process; God is training us for his Kingdom—and training involves work and change.

 Notes from Taylor University:

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