In previous posts we’ve noted that God wanted His law to be read during the Feast of Tabernacles celebrated by His people, the Israelites. The purpose was not merely to have a program to follow during this celebration. The end result was the effect of His Word on the people.
“Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law.” (Deut. 31:12, NASB)
Here is what God wanted to happen as a result of the Word being read:
1) They would hear what they needed to know.
2) They would learn what it meant for their lives.
3) They would fear the Lord who inspired the law.
4) They would be careful to observe what all that they heard.
We’ve already noted the importance of hearing God’s Word to faith and victorious living and the need to learn to apply those words by understanding and practicing what they mean not merely being able to parrot back what was heard. We’ve also stressed the importance of connecting with God, the Author of the Word, for therein comes the motivation to take the fourth step of applying these truths in real life.
The end result of the Bible learning process should be the application of truth to their lives. As the title of a teacher training worksheet says, “Application: It’s God’s Idea, Not Merely a Good Idea.”
The word “observe” in this verse means to do or accomplish. But notice how they are to do this:
- They are to “be careful” about it. To be careful is to give heed to it, to guard it as something important. This is purposefully living in accord with God’s will. … intentional, diligent, stopping to think about how truth they have learned applies to their current situation. As we have seen in a previous post, this will be more likely to happen when learning goes beyond head knowledge to practicing the truth in a contrived or simulated situation right there in class.
- They are to observe “all the words.” This means students don’t get to pick and choose what they want to believe and apply to their lives. This will be more likely to happen if they have come to “fear the Lord” who inspired the words they have heard and learned because they want to honor Him.
To truly arrive at the end result of a Bible lesson, you can see how students must progress through the four elements — hearing, learning, fearing the Lord, and then observing, or doing what they heard. God’s end result is “doing” that grows out of a trust relationship with Him based on understanding His character and ways. He is not looking for robotic or dictatorial conformity.
- Choose curriculum that is Bible-based but also stresses the importance of applying truth not merely because it is something students should do but because they have come to know, trust, and love the God who spoke the Word.
- Bible teachers must teach in such a way that students are motivated by this kind of a relationship with God, not by a legalistic pressure to conform.
- Bible teachers must teach so students understand how the God who commands them to live certain ways is the One of whom there is no greater which means His Word not only has absolute authority but is worth following wholeheartedly. If the curriculum doesn’t go there, teachers should add this emphasis.