bible study tools

Bible Study Plans: Bible Study Techniques and Tools

In part three of our series on how to study the Bible, I’ll review some tips on some Bible study techniques you can use to get the most out of your time with God in His Word. Contact me today!

BIBLE STUDY TECHNIQUES

  • Come with an open heart. Bible study is not to be rushed through or done just for the sake of doing it and then checking Bible study off your checklist. Bible study is your time alone with God, which gives you a chance to grow closer to God and get to know Him. Prepare your heart and your mind to receive what He has for you.
  • Pray. Always pray before opening the Bible. Pray for God to reveal to you what He needs you to know.

BIBLE STUDY TOOLS

  • Bible dictionary. You’ll want to invest in a good Bible dictionary that will not only define words such as redemption, but will also tell you what it means in the Bible and where you’ll see it. I use Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney.
  • Bible atlas. Although this one is not necessary and most study Bibles have maps in the back, but a good Bible Atlas that will show you maps of where all the events you are are reading about in the Bible are happening is a great tool to have on hand, especially if you’re a visual learner. I use Zondervan’s Atlas of the Bible by Carl G Rasmussen.
  • Keep a Bible journal. This is important to record all you are learning throughout your Bible study and to jot down any thing God is saying to you in the moment. While you’re reading, ask yourself the common questions of discovery: who, what, where, when, and why to learn more about what you are reading.
  • Highlight or write in your Bible. Jotting down thoughts as you read the Bible can be a powerful learning tool, especially when you re-visit that same verse years later and see how far you’ve grown with Jesus.
  • Study Bible. A study Bible will offer up notes as you’re reading, which will provide guidance, context, and other useful information, such as where else this person appears in the Bible. A good study Bible is essential in my opinion to understanding the Bible.
  • Different versions of the Bible. Invest in different versions of the Bible. Since the Bible came to us in the Hebrew, through Ancient Greek, into Latin, and now whatever language you are reading in, context, meaning, and even whole parts got mistranslated or missing in the Bible. Different versions of the Bible will give you a deeper and richer understanding of what you’re reading as you hear the same thing said in a different way for your Bible study.
  • Pay attention to the footnotes. The footnotes in the Bible will give you another great way to learn more about where else these events may have happened as well as an explanation on what’s going on.

Ultimately, you only need a willing heart and a Bible to study God’s Word. Those items listed above are nice to have to enhance your learning of the Bible, but don’t let having them stop you from beginning to study God’s Word. Dive in, and being. Contact me with any questions!

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 27, Day 2 Isaiah 60:1-9

Summary of passage:  Isaiah says:  Arise and shine for your light (the Redeemer) has come along with the glory of the Lord.  Darkness covers the earth but the Lord shines over that with His glory.  Nations and kings come to God’s light.  All will assemble from afar.  You will be radiant with joy.  Wealth will be brought from far and wide.  Camels will cover the land (prosperity).  All from Sheba and Nebaioth will come, serve and praise the Lord.  All offerings will be accepted.  The temple will be adorned.  Ships, including those of Tarshish, will bring your sons, silver, and gold to the honor of the Lord.

Questions:

3a)  The light is the Redeemer (from Isaiah 59:20) or can also be the Lord as He rises upon us and His glory appears over us.  It has come to Israel, the peoples, Nations, kings–come for all.

b)  Isaiah 59:9-10:  Deep shadows where we grope along the wall  and feel our way without eyes.  We stumble as if it were twilight and we are like the dead.

4a)  Nations and kings will come.  All will assemble including your sons and daughters from afar.  You will be radiant.  All the wealth on the seas will be brought and all the wealth of the nations.  Camels will cover the land (a sign of prosperity) and all from Sheba will bring gold and praise (all nations will praise the Lord and bring gifts).  All offerings will be accepted.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I came back to church after college when I had my first daughter.  It was time.  I wanted her to know Jesus.  Recently, my friend who is a missionary has led by example as I watched her consult the Lord in every decision, listen, and obey unquestioningly.  She has been an example I can only hope to one day replicate.

Conclusions:  This passage has a lot of geographical references.

According to my Bible Atlas (Zondervan Atlas of the Bible by Carl G Rasmussen), Midian was a descendant of Abraham and Keturah and the ancestor of an Arabian tribe that bore his name.  Midian is mentioned 57 times in the OT.  They were a nomadic people but believed to have its center in NW Arabia.

Midian was also a part of Sheba: http://bibleatlas.org/full/midian.htm

Ephah is believed to be a separate tribe of Sheba like Midian but is unknown exactly where it was located:

http://bibleatlas.org/regional/ephah.htm

Sheba was on the Arabian peninsula now Yemen: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/sheba.htm

According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C Tenney, the camels mentioned carried trade goods from Sheba northward to the Mediterranean countries. Sheba was very wealthy through the control of the trade in perfumes and incense.  The Queen of Sheba visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chronicles 9:1-12), riding a camel as well bearing just such gifts.

Kedar is another name for Arabia: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/kedar.htm

According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Kedar is mentioned numerous times in the Bible (Isaiah mentions it in:  Isaiah 21:17, Isaiah 42:11).  Kedar also had great wealth and Zondervan infers due to the number of references in the Bible that Kedar must have been well-known to the Israelites from 1000-500 BC.  Kedar was also one of the distant lands.

Nebaioth is in Northern Arabia: http://bibleatlas.org/full/nebaioth.htm

According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Tarshish’s location is debated but many scholars place it in Spain.  It is mentioned many times in reference to ships and ports but it was a very distant place as well.  It was on a ship headed to Tarshish that Jonah sought to flee from the Lord (Jonah 1:3; 4:2).

Map of Tarshish: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/tarshish.htm

We must remember the New World had not been discovered yet.  The people’s knowledge of the world was limited so these places represented the far reaches of the known world.

Camels were the people’s primary mode of transportation in Isaiah’s time (still are in parts of the Middle East).  Having many camels could be akin to having many cars today:  a sign of wealth and a means of their livelihood.

End Note:  It is fascinating to see how these locations crop up in the Bible.  I love Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by JD Douglas and Merrill C Tenney which gives Bible references and lists all the places these locations are in the Bible.

I would have never remembered the ship Jonah boarded was headed to Tarshish.  Knowing Tarshish’s estimated location really cements in my mind how much Jonah wanted to “escape” from God (not that he could escape from God).  Jonah wanted to go to the far ends of the Earth, the edge of the known world–that’s how bad he didn’t want to go to Ninevah.  Ninevah must have been a really, really bad place!  I cannot recommend this Dictionary enough.

What does this have to do with Isaiah?  Nothing.  And that’s why I love BSF.  It leads you to discover things you otherwise never would have.