A recent article in the Jerusalem Post described the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reinstituting a Bible study circle that included his family along with several biblical scholars and rabbis. This was a practice begun by former Prime Minister Ben-Gurion and continued under Prime Minister Begin. As the planned hour long meeting expanded to two hours upon his urging, Netanyahu stated that this was better than what he usually had to deal with. He noted that “Ben-Gurion and Begin believed that the Bible should be the heritage of the entire nation – secular and religious, young and old, men and women. The Bible is the foundation of our existence.” He added that the Bible also serves as a map and a compass. The journalist writing the article noted the difficulty Netanyahu has in trying to break away from the everyday concerns to study the Bible. He then recalled an incident occurring when Begin was prime minister. While in the midst of one of their studies, Begin received a message that President Carter was on the phone. He purportedly replied that he was in the middle of studying verses from Deuteronomy and that the President should call back in a couple of hours. His reply speaks volumes about what he felt was important in his life.
We can glean several applicable messages from this account. As Netanyahu states, the Bible is also our map and compass which explains why it is so important for us to study it. We would not think of taking a trip to an unfamiliar place without having a map or GPS with us. Do we take the same attitude regarding the Bible? A spiritual GPS is even more important as we travel on our road through life. It helps us stay on the right course. As Christians the Bible is also the foundation of our existence, not only as the people of God, but also of our nation which was birthed on Christian principles. But the foremost message which is applicable to us concerns its importance in our lives. Prime Minister Begin had a clear sense of priorities. For him the Scriptures were of highest importance. Its study was not to be interrupted. While there were things which were very important in his life, such as calls from US presidents, there were other things even more important, such as studying the Bible. On this he refused to compromise.
It is worthwhile looking at our own lives in comparison. Our lives are filled with busyness and important things – long days at work, lengthy commutes, transporting children to various events, worthwhile meetings to attend, and constant interruptions to our schedules. Does this drive us to spend more time with God, as John Wesley did arising three hours earlier to pray because of the hectic day ahead of him, or less? What do we drop when we find ourselves overextended? I fear that all too often it is the study of the Scriptures, at least I find it so in my life. It is much too easy to rationalize, with good intentions, “I will read it later”, and then find that the later opportune time never seems to arrive. Unfortunately this says more about what my true priorities are than I would like to admit. It says I have not actively made it a priority. Instead I will try to fit it into my schedule. It raises the question: “Which is more important, God or my schedule?” How important is the Bible in your life? As you examine your own priorities, whom do you find yourself identifying with, Prime Minister Begin or me?