Bored of the Details Yet?

I’m guessing you are bored with the tedious details in the Old Testament law. But, I think these details actually tell us something about God and how wonderful he is.

As you have been reading this past week, I’m guessing your patience was tested. You probably said to yourself (more than once) something like, “Didn’t I just read that in the last passage?” “Why is this section so repetitive?” “O my goodness! Why so much detail in this passage?” Yes, there were a lot of details mentioned, whether it was the building of the tabernacle or the fashioning of the priestly garments.

At the Thrive small groups that I lead on Tuesday nights, we have been reading, listening, and reflecting on The Daily Bible passages that fall on the Tuesday dates. This past Tuesday, we had one of these monotonous passages that had detail after detail about the tabernacle and the priestly garments. Reading the text gets tedious. Even just listening to someone else read the text gets boring.

Before I move forward in my thoughts, let me give you an overview of how a typical Bible reflection functions during Thrive. The format includes a few elements: (1) Reading the entire text all the way through, while the group participants write down observations from the story that they hear, picture in their mind, themes that stick-out, etc.  Afterward, (2) we all, as a group, share our observations with each other — helping to collaboratively give a wide, detailed view of the passage. We share things related to: What stood out the most to us? How might this story have been different if ______ wasn’t a part of it? Where did we see God in the story? How was God active? What characteristic of God emerged from the passage? What does this story say about our lives? What does this story say about the promises that God has made? What is challenging or encouraging about this passage. As we share our observations and thoughts on these kinds of questions, we end up (fairly naturally) connecting the various points that we raise. The act of connecting the dots in a passage or connecting the content of the passage to our daily life is just the act of interpreting the Bible. This process is essentially an exercise of communal interpretation (interpreting the Bible with others).

This past Tuesday, one of the observations that was raised was how intricately detailed God’s commands to Moses and the people of Israel were. We ended-up throwing that question back at the question: What might the intricate details of God’s commands tells us about who God is? Because the fact is, when God acts, that act shares with us humans something about who God is. In this case, there is something about God that is revealed in the type and manner in which he commands Moses and the Israelites to build the tabernacle and fashion the priestly garments. The group that night ended-up connecting those two dots form the passage in the following way. We concluded that the intricate details that God gives points to the reality that God cares about the little things in our lives.

Often, we as humans are so consumed with the big things that happen in life: vacations, getting our driver’s license, getting married, having children, turning 50, retiring, etc. But, how often do we pay attention to the little details of life — things such as: the little flower that somehow grows amidst a landscape of concrete; or, that our fingers move every day so we can type, drive, pick-up our children; or, that our eyes function and we can see and enjoy television, movies, and sporting events; or, maybe the reality that molecules hold together to keep your chair the shape of a chair, instead of crumbing to the floor when you sit into it. What all of these small details in our life continue to show us is that God cares about everything in his creation, even the things that we most often take for granted. What is interesting here is that for the Thrive group this last Tuesday night (and hopefully you who are now reading this), the characteristic that God cares about the little details of life was brought back to the forefront of our thinking from what initially seemed like a very boring passage from the Old Testament. How about that?

In the coming weeks, as we continue to plough our way through the many details and laws and foreign words and names in the Old Testament law, let this thought be a lens through which we read and reflect on those passages. At the least, let those passages be a reminder to you that God cares about every detail of your live, even the smallest and seemingly dull and monotonous details of life.