"Baruch At Hashem, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam, Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu La'asok B'divrei Torah."
"Blessed are you, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has made us holy through His commandments, and commanded us to actively Study Torah."
The above is a blessing of the Torah that Jews pray every morning. I have been learning about Jewish prayers through Rabbi Gidon Ariel of Root Source. This morning the Rabbi said something in his lesson that really struck a chord with me. He explained that the Jewish people pray this prayer because they have a holy commandment (a task) to actively study the Torah. As a nation, the Jewish people should, therefore, actively be studying the Torah. The Rabbi then asked, "So, what happens if you don't actually learn anything? If it goes in one ear and out the other?" It then becomes, according to the Rabbi, a blessing that shouldn't have been said. For example, the prayer above is a commandment from God to the Jews to actively study the Torah. If the prayer/blessing is simply repeated without putting it into action, then you have said the whole blessing in vain.
Did you catch that? If the blessing is not put into action, you are saying it in vain, and by doing so, taking God's name in vain. The Hebrew translation of the word "actively" is La'asok, and it literally means to "occupy yourself with." Jews are commanded to "occupy" themselves with the words of the Torah. I loved the Rabbi's explanation of this. He said, "Even when a doctor is not healing, he is "occupying" himself with his medical profession. So as a professional occupies themselves with their profession, the Jewish people occupy themselves with their profession. And their profession is the Torah."
How then does this apply to the Christian when studying God's Word? God wants everyone in the world to know Him. We can each have a unique relationship with God. But the Jewish people are different. Yes, they can have a personal relationship with God, but they are unique because they have a national relationship with God. They have been called as a nation to actively study the Torah. It is their responsibility as a nation, therefore, to have a relationship with God. How do they get this relationship with God? Through the study of the Torah. This is why the Jewish people are so unique. No other nation on the face of the earth, since time began, has ever been called to do this. For the Christian then, the key to having a relationship with God, to truly know Him, is also to study the Torah (God's Word). If you go to church every Sunday and never pick up your Bible the other days of the week, you are not actively seeking a relationship with God. It is going in one ear and out the other! Like the Jews, we need to "occupy" ourselves with the Word of God.
To honestly know God and to grow in your relationship with Christ, there is no other way but to study His Word. The Jews were commanded to obey all of God's laws and ordinances. To learn them, they had to study the Torah. Deuteronomy 11:19 says, "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." It is the same for anyone who wants to pursue a relationship with God. Read His Word, study it, teach it to your children. Deuteronomy 11:19 says, "when you lie down and when you get up." In other words, occupy yourself with the Word of God all the time. Memorize it and keep it in your heart. Knowing God's Word keeps you from sin and in a right relationship with our Lord.
The Jewish people have been commissioned as a nation to study the Torah. Christians have also been commissioned. We are to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:18-20). While the Jewish nation has a unique calling to occupy themselves with the Torah, so do those who profess Jesus as their Messiah. If you are not studying the Word of God, how can you fulfill the Great Commission set before you? If you have ever struggled with your identity in Christ and what He expects from you - that is it in a nutshell. Study His Word, learn from it, put it into practice and then share it with others. Don't keep it to yourself, or the blessing that comes from reading it will be in vain.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19-7-11, ESV).