Okay, I admit it. I used to avoid reading the boring parts of the Bible. Sections like genealogy lists, the greetings at the end of epistles, and many parts of the Old Testament law. Particularly those civil laws like what to do if a neighbor’s ox falls in your pit or if your ox gores someone to death. After all, how many people own an ox these days.
But my attitude has changed over time. For one reason or another, I finally began to read those sections I considered boring. And not just read quickly through to check a box. I actually took time to see what was there and consider why it was significant.
Think about it. The Bible is the very words of God. (See also “Who Wrote the Bible and Why Does it Matter?“) It is divinely inspired AND divinely designed. God intentionally included every part, every word, every truth. Every “hello,” list of unpronounceable names, and law has spiritual value.
What about you? Are there parts of Scripture you avoid? Let’s see if I can win you over!
My Top 3 Boring Parts of the Bible
1. Genealogy lists
My attitude changed about these lists when I studied Jesus’ lineage for one of the devotions in my book “Heirloom.” I read a little about ancient genealogies and why they were so important.
Ancient cultures regularly talked about their ancestors and Israelites particularly valued their ancestry records. Some genealogies were written and others were transmitted orally. Sharing the genealogies verbally made them very personal to the families.
Genealogies also served useful purposes such as establishing claims to the throne, who could serve as priests. Additionally, the family relationships they revealed determined important matters like marriage, inheritance, and social obligations.
In addition to the 25 genealogical lists in the Old Testament, the New Testament contains two separate accounts of Jesus’ ancestry – one in Matthew and one in Luke. I learned they reveal important truths about Jesus. For instance, Jesus descended from David, fulfilling God’s promise of an eternal King (Matthew 1:6). I also saw how the presence of Gentile women in Jesus’ line – like Rahab and Ruth (Matthew 1:5) – highlights the all-inclusive nature of Jesus’ salvation.
Genealogies are not dry lists, but exciting roadmaps. They show fulfillment of God’s promises and how He has worked through families over time. Don’t skip these rich treasures in the Bible.
Most of the epistles (letters) in the New Testament include some kind of personal greetings, where the author of the letter mentions individuals by name. Some of these greeting include a personal note. Many of these individuals are not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture. So, it’s tempting to just skip right over this part!
But, like a genealogy list, the greetings can be a goldmine of interesting information. For instance, Paul’s greetings in Romans, yields fascinating insight to both the Roman church and Paul’s ministry. First, Paul mentioned as many as five separate house church leaders and even more likely existed. Rome was a huge city and the church didn’t have a building! Second, the inclusion of so many women in Paul’s greetings show that women occupied a prominent place in the church and in Paul’s ministry. (Want to know more about Romans? See the 40-day meaty devotional book “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Romans.”)
Even though we may struggle to pronounce the names, the facts and clues we find in the greetings will enrich our understanding of what God was doing in the early church. Here are a few quick tips to help get the most out of greetings:
- Check cross-References – Check to see where else in Scripture these individuals are mentioned.
- Record facts – Record every fact you discover about the individuals, events, or the church.
- Note relationships – Note how these individuals are connected to the author.
- Recognize impact – Consider what impact these individuals had on the church and God’s work.
This may be the most boring of the boring. Why? Because so much of it is far removed from us by time and culture. But, about a year ago, I led a Bible reading group through the book of Exodus. Of course, the plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea are pretty exciting. And the 10 Commandments are obviously so relevant. (See also “6 Reasons to Read and Study the Old Testament.”)
Then we got to all those civil laws which are so rooted in the ancient agrarian society. But I gave it a real chance. (Maybe that’s because I had to since I was leading!) I didn’t hurry through it and genuinely sought the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And He faithfully began to show me God’s eternal principles behind those ancient laws that should guide our behavior and relationships – even if we don’t own an ox.
You might include different parts of Scripture on a “boring parts of the Bible” list. And I could add to mine. Like all the land allotments for the tribes in the book of Joshua. However, I know this too is very valuable and I trust that the next time I read and study this God will show me what I have missed in the past.
I’m not saying that the “boring” parts of the Bible should become your favorites. But, I’m asking you to take time to see the value. Because all of it is rich, true, and relevant.
What parts of Scripture do you struggle to get excited about?