The Bible is like a telescope in this regard. There is a right and a wrong way to look through it. This may be surprising for some, but any spiritual activity can be done for the wrong reasons. Just as we can pray for the wrong reasons (James 4:3), and fast for the wrong reasons (Isaiah 58:4), we can also study for the wrong reasons (2 Timothy 2:15, Titus 3:9) – looking, as it were, through the wrong end of the telescope.
How can this be? We can do this if we look at the Bible so it is pointing at us – looking to see what is of interest to us, or just at the old favorite scriptures which are comfortable to us. We can do this if we study in order to justify our beliefs, our ideas. We can do it if we get caught up in primarily studying doctrine, history, prophecy or any other area of personal interest. When any of these things becomes the regular focus of our study, we are “turning the telescope” and as a result God looks small and distant when viewed in this way.
The real reason to study the word of God is God. The point of our study should always be to grow in our understanding of God and His Son. That’s where the focus should be. Notice what Jesus Himself said about this: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). The word of God does have the key to life, but it is found in the message about the promised Messiah and what His life, death and resurrection mean to us along with the role model His life is for us. That is why the apostle Peter wrote: “But grow in the grace and knowledge … of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 3:18): not knowledge of doctrine or prophecy, not knowledge of only encouraging scriptures, but knowledge of the One to whom all scriptures point.
It is only as we look into the Bible the right way round – with the “telescope” pointing at God and not at us – that we see God. It is then that we see ourselves in perspective, and our interests and our issues become relatively small and insignificant. It is then that God seems great and near, and our study of God’s word becomes the most meaningful.