“God’s Word is the only unchanging, eternal reality we can look to… When we hear God’s voice through the pages of His Word, we find our true home in Him, and the brokenness we experience in the deep waters of life is redeemed for a purpose greater than we can imagine.”
From the very start of this book, what struck me most was how on every page, Denise Hughes’ love of God’s Word shines through.
The book is structured around the principles found in Ezra 7:10:
“Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
The four sections of the book encourage us, too, to determine in our hearts to make God’s voice our guide, to learn to hear it by studying his Word, to obey what we read so that we not only grow in knowledge but are transformed in character, and to teach others to do the same.
The book is part Bible study, part memoir. It traces Ezra’s journey from exile in Babylon back to Jerusalem, but also traces Denise Hughes’ own journey of falling in love with God’s Word and shows how it has impacted her at various points in her life. Along the way, she shares practical tips for engaging with the Bible and studying it.
I found this book very helpful. I appreciated the author’s honesty as she shared about some painful situations from her life such as her brother’s paralysis as the result of a car accident, and her years as a single parent following the breakdown of her first marriage, and I felt that the real life stories clearly showed the relevance of the Bible in the complexity of life today.
I also appreciated that there was no claim to have all the answers:
“I can’t write a book about the Bible, telling you how life-changing it is- no matter how true that truth is- without also sharing my struggle to believe everything the Bible says.”
As someone who already loves the Bible, I found that this book sparked my enthusiasm even more. There are some wonderful insights about different passages of Scripture sprinkled throughout the book, which had me reaching for my highlighter (or at least the highlight button on my Kindle) on several occasions.
Two examples of this:
Firstly, many of us are aware that the shortest verse in the Bible consists of just two words: “Jesus wept.” Hughes points out that the shortest verse in the Bible could have been about anyone- Abraham, Moses or David- but it is about Jesus. It could have said “Jesus prayed,” or “Jesus healed,” but it says “Jesus wept.” Could God have inspired the scribes assigning the verse numbers to do this deliberately in order the highlight that Jesus cares about our pain and our suffering? And could it also be pointing to a greater truth?
“Just as that one small verse is so short when compared to the rest of the Bible, all human suffering will one day, as hard as it is to imagine now, seem so short when compared to all eternity.”
Secondly, the observation that while 1 and 2 Chronicles recount the same history told in 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings, certain details are omitted from the account in Chronicles, for example, David’s failure with Bathsheba and Uriah.
“History wasn’t rewritten; it wasn’t changed to say David’s sin never happened. But the chronicler left it out, in all likelihood to remind the returning exiles of God’s complete forgiveness. Their past sins will not be held against them. A new future with new hope awaits.”
These insights and several others strengthened my desire to go deeper into the Bible, to keep on discovering the many treasures it holds.
Hughes also provides helpful advice about how to do this: looking at the Bible both with a “telescope approach” and a “microscope approach”: becoming familiar with the big picture and the context by following a plan to read the whole Bible, but also taking time to slow down and dig deep into shorter passages by writing out Scripture and praying it.
Whether you are new to exploring the Bible or it is something you have been doing for several years, I would highly recommend this book. I think it will provide some fresh insights, a reminder of why the Bible is so important and relevant, and the inspiration to go further in plumbing its depths.
I’m grateful to Harvest House Publishers and Netgalley for access to an advance digital copy of this book. I only share books here that I believe will genuinely be beneficial to my readers.