As a pastor, I shouldn’t be admitting this, but yes, the Bible is boring in some parts. On January 1, I began a reading plan to read through the Bible in a year. That means over the past 3 months I have read countless boring parts: genealogies, numerous censuses (or is it censii?), hundreds of verses of odd rules and regulations, and various boundary markers and travel routes.
It’s at this point in trying to read the Bible that many people want to give up. They start to think the Bible is too boring, and they wonder, “why are all these boring parts included?” And I understand. Even as much as I love the Old Testament, I tend to scan through some of these long, tedious passages.
But did you ever stop to think about why what we consider to be boring parts of the bible actually made the cut? Why they were included? Below are the top 3 reasons these passages are in our Bibles and what they teach us.
The boring parts were crucial when written
As Christians who are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we may not appreciate the importance of the long lists of bizarre laws and regulations given to the Israelites. But those lists of laws were crucial to God’s people who were trying to please Him through their obedience. Before Jesus showed up and changed everything, those laws were God’s way of protecting people from conflict, disease, and idolatry.
Or when we look at the land boundaries as described in Joshua 14-21, we see text that seems so unnecessarily tedious. But if your parents split up the family farm between all their children, you too would want an accurate deed describing exactly who received which parts of the land.
You see, we have to remind ourselves that the Bible wasn’t written directly to each one of us individually. So yes, some parts may not seem to apply to you as directly, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t crucial to others at some point in history. These details give us perspective on the Bible and how it was written for an audience much wider than just ourselves.
The boring parts prove historical existence
If you were to write a fable to teach your kids morals, would you take the time to write out a long genealogy of each character? Or would you spend thousands of words describing the boundary markers of where each family tribe lived? Not surprisingly, the authors of Greek and Roman mythology didn’t write about those things either. Not like the authors of the boring parts of the Bible did.
So the next time you dread reading one of these monotonous sections of details, recognize these details actually serve us an incredible gift today – as proof of the historicity of the Hebrew people’s existence, and point to the accuracy which the Bible was trying to communicate for future generations. Boundary details of family tribes aren’t important to fables or myths, but they are to actual families who need to know the markers of their land. We should recognize this as proof of the authenticity of our Bibles.
The boring parts Show God cares about the little things
We have a tendency to think of God as being a great, big guy in the sky who doesn’t care about my tiny problems. He only worries about the BIG stuff. But when we read about how God wanted a census taken with every person counted, or how he gave laws for land owners to leave the corners of their fields for the foreigners and impoverished to harvest for themselves, you realize he cares about the little things.
He cared about the details of the Israelite lives thousands of years ago, and he cares about the details of your life today. God is not a cosmic force who threw this world together and now is just watching it all play out. He is actively at work bringing light and life through the actions of those who are willing to follow his leading.
So the next time you get caught in the monotony of one of these boring parts of the Bible, remember they are actually more important than they seem at first blush. And if there’s a boring part of the Bible that you just don’t understand, leave a comment below and I’ll try to help you see it’s place in the Big Story of God.