Do we really know the treasure we hold in our hands? Do we truly grasp the priceless gift that rests on our nightstands, sits on our end tables, or resides in the depths of our phones?
It’s the very Word of God and filled with God Himself.
Jewish people celebrate God’s Word with a special holiday called Simchat Torah, which means “Joy of the Torah.” In its strictest sense, the word Torah refers to the first five books of the Bible in which God recorded the origin of the world, the Jewish people and the laws He gave them to follow. The word means “instruction,” and in the broader Jewish understanding, the Torah includes all of the Old Covenant Scriptures. Likewise, as Messianic Jews and Gentile Believers in Jesus, we consider the term as pertaining to all of God’s Word, including the New Testament Scriptures.
Simchat Torah is a time of much rejoicing in Jewish synagogues. Members of the congregation leap and shout as they dance in procession behind someone carrying the Torah scroll around the room. They circle the reading table, and worshippers take turns throughout the morning to allow as many people as possible to carry the scroll before the morning readings begin.
The weekly reading cycle that covers the Torah, Genesis through Deuteronomy, in one year concludes on Simchat Torah. Readers recite the last portion of the reading year from Deuteronomy, and immediately afterward is a reading of Genesis chapter 1. This demonstrates that our need for God’s Word is never-ending.
God’s words in the Bible are truth and life. We in Western countries have had the Bible available to us our entire lives. Many Believers possess multiple copies in several versions. The Bible is on the internet, and print copies are offered free in many places. That kind of access can lead to diminished appreciation. We can take it for granted. If we don’t read it today, it will be there for us tomorrow. If we lose our Bible, we can readily replace it with another.
Ah, but watch a few videos of Bible deliveries to Believers who live in countries where it is forbidden or in remote villages that haven’t had a Bible translated into their language until that moment, and you’ll see a vivid reminder of how precious the Bible is. With uncontrolled tears, they receive their first Bible. It doesn’t belong to the church or the pastor who teaches them from it. It’s theirs. They gaze at it in their hands, speechless. They beam at it, overwhelmed with joy. Their very own Bible to read whenever they want! They clutch it to their chests, releasing it to kiss the cover. And then, they open the Word of God and are immediately drawn in, absorbed in what God has to say to them through His words in their heart language.
Simchat Torah is a holiday to embrace with refreshed joy that which we may have come to take for granted. It is a day dedicated to rekindling our sense of awe over the enormous gift of possessing God’s Word. For by it, we know who He is. We see His love for us and are assured that He can meet our every need. We recognize His majesty and purity, and we see the hope of our future as those who believe in His Messiah Jesus.
For those outside of Israel, Simchat Torah begins at sunset on October 10, 2020, and ends at sundown on October 11. Let’s each take time to meditate on the wonder of God’s Word this Simchat Torah, spending time in the Bible and genuinely celebrating the immeasurable gift that it is. May your day be filled with true “joy of the Torah,” and may you cherish it’s worth more each day.