I don't really care for football. I'm a true blooded Canadian girl, and I like hockey. My hermeneutics prof is a football fan, and he used a football analogy this past week to give a bit of a rebuke to our class.
The assignment was to interpret Daniel's seventy weeks. We were supposed to take seriously the break down of those weeks, 7 weeks + 62 weeks + 1 week. We were encouraged to look up a Hebrew grammatical feature called the athnach, which was supposed to help. We were given an obscure, old commentary on Daniel which was supposed to help. One of my classmates said he felt like it took 69 weeks to read the thing. I read enough information by Friday that I was suitably confused. All of our responses were submitted to our online discussion group on Sunday evening, and the overwhelming consensus was that this was a frustrating assignment. Not one of us ventured to be specific about those seventy weeks. I don't think one of us was thorough enough in our answers. I know I wasn't.
Late Sunday evening, we all received an email with general observations about what we should have done. On Tuesday, at the beginning of the class, our prof gave a gentle, but firm rebuke. In biblical interpretation, he said, it is never okay to punt. I only have a vague idea of what punting is in football, but I knew from the rest of the comments, and the quiet mood in the room, it wasn't a good thing.
His advice to us was that even if all we can say is that we've done the work and have seen and evaluated the views, but haven't landed on one ourselves, we should do the work and make an effort. He went on to remind those students in my class that if they have plans to be ordained, answering with an "I don't know" in an ordination council would be frowned upon.
He then went on to give what I felt was a very inspiring encouragement about taking seriously the task of biblical interpretation. And that includes what we call Bible study. What else are we doing when we study the Bible, but interpreting? He reminded us that whether or not we will be in professional ministry, we are all students of Scripture, and that demands a serious, dedicated approach. There are no short cuts. There are no easy roads.
Much of the content I come up with for this blog and my own is this need to study the Bible deeply. It probably sounds very repetitive after a while. Perhaps it just bores or irritates people. I remember years ago having a teenager tell me I was like a "broken record" when it came to stressing with my students the need to know the Bible. Perhaps I do sound like a broken record, but I don't apologize for thinking that it's a message that needs repeating.
I'm no one special. I don't have a lot of great advice to give. I'm just an ordinary woman, and I don't have a lot to offer. But I do have one thing that is worth offering, and that is the exhortation to be diligent students of the Word of God. Immerse yourself in it. Soak in it until it's part of your very skin. Let it penetrate your heart. Don't look for easy answers. Learn how to study well. Don't look for special messages that simply reinforce presuppositions. Be willing to work hard. Yes, the Holy Spirit is our ultimate teacher, but that doesn't give us a pass to be lazy or passive.
I hear women talking about wanting to go deeper with God, so they buy books written by women who talk about their experiences of God. To me, that is robbing ourselves of a much richer treasure. If you want to go deeper with God, go to the source: the Bible. That is where you will see God, high and lifted up, exalted, in His glory. That will change you.
While I don't understand the significance of punting, I understand what my prof was saying. He has a passion for Scripture. It's a joy each week to see how excited he gets with talking about it, and seeking its meaning. That is why he gave us a little rebuke; he wants us to have that, too. And that's a lesson we all can learn.