During a team time earlier today with our project here in Johannesburg, we were reading Numbers 13. That’s the story about Joshua going into Canaan with the other men of Israel to find out what the Promise Land is all about.
As we read, we came across some difficult Hebrew names. To my surprise, after the reader stumbled over the first name, she skipped the other three and continued on reading the next sentence. She kind of giggled. Everyone else joined in the laugh. After all, the names are hard and it’s embarrassing to butcher the pronunciation.
I’m not trying to criticize the reader because I realize that the Old Testament can be a tongue twister. However, I think it was a reminder to me of a larger problem in our Christian culture. The problem is two-fold. First, we don’t consider the Old Testament “as inspired” as the New Testament. We would never confess that, but we might secretly hold to that belief. Think about how much Christians actually read and discuss the Old Testament.
Secondly, we don’t recognize the significance and importance of how personal the Bible really is. These names represented real people with real lives and families, who really served the Lord and really died to go to be with him. The Bible is intensely personal and crazy-hard (albeit small) lists like the one in Numbers 13, along with lengthy genealogies elsewhere show, before anything else, that people matter to God.
Don’t be in a rush to get through the name lists. Slow down and do your best. It’s a part of Scripture just as much as John 3:16. He created these people. He loves them. He used them to build his kingdom. Let’s glorify God and honor their legacy by reading their names fully, confidently, and with delight.