Before reading further in this article, please turn in your Bible to the first chapter of Genesis. Or you could navigate there on your electronic device.
Are you there now?
Alright, now we actually will not discuss the fascinating account of the re-creation of the Earth recorded here in the first chapter of Genesis. But having it opened will help you to think in a way that you may not have before about that Bible. Your Bible.
Anyone who has seen the beautiful new Morning Star musical has probably started building up a good knowledge base about one of God’s apostles named Peter Waldo. One remarkable aspect of Peter Waldo’s apostleship was that he established colleges, similar to the one God’s Church has today in Edmond, Oklahoma, and will soon have in the United Kingdom. Mr. Waldo also ran grade schools, similar to Imperial Academy–U.S.A. and Imperial Academy–Philippines.
We know that colleges and schools are an ancient tradition for God’s Work—dating all the way back to Samuel’s colleges, Elijah’s colleges and then Jeremiah’s colleges in Ireland. Later, there were the colleges under Peter Waldo, then those under Herbert W. Armstrong, and today, we have the one under Gerald Flurry.
But there was one aspect of Peter Waldo’s schools that was unique: the main occupation of the students in the student work program.
Mr. Waldo wanted the members of the Church at that time to have Bibles so that they could get to know the Word of God, so they could “prove all things” in the scriptures, and so they could grow in the grace and knowledge of God through diligent Bible study.
But there was one problem.
Peter Waldo lived in the 12th century a.d. That was the age of castles, feudalism and knights in shining armor. The man who invented the printing press, Johannes Guttenberg, wouldn’t come on the scene for about 200 years. So Bibles had to be hand copied—written out one word at a time.
Have you ever thought about how many words are in the Bible—from beginning to end? Starting with “In the beginning” and going all the way through to that last “Amen” that concludes the Book of Revelation?
There are 774,746 words.
Here’s another question for you: How many words can the average human being write by hand, while copying?
If someone is writing down his own thoughts, he can go a little faster. But if he is copying words from another text, then the average person writes 22 words per minute.
So one complete copy of the Bible represents 587 hours of work.
If the scribe is working on it as a full-time job for 40 hours per week, without any interruptions (except for lunch breaks), then it would take him a little over 3½ months of labor.
That’s how long it would take a hard-working scribe—like one of Mr. Waldo’s students—to write out a copy of the Bible.
The average American worker makes $44,321 each year. So, that means that if a modern worker spent 3½ months writing out a copy of the Bible, he would earn around $12,594.74.
When you look at your Bible, do you see it as something worth that much money?
In most cases, our Bibles came to us very easily. The printing press came along and made it affordable to print books. Now you can go to a used bookstore and buy a Bible—a complete canonized copy of the Word of God—for $1. But when we look at our Bibles, we should remember that one of Peter Waldo’s students would have had to work 40 hours a week—with focused, uninterrupted work—for 3½ months to make them.
The reason this is important to remember is because it can help us to truly value our Bibles.
Think for a moment about the value a Bible would have had to a Church member who lived during Mr. Waldo’s time. How would that person have treated his Bible? After Mr. Waldo and those students at God’s college gave a Bible to a Church member, do you think that member would have cried?
It would have been a very emotional experience! They would have been receiving a gift that they never could have afforded, in most cases. To be given your own copy of that precious truth—so that you could study it, so that you could write that truth on your heart, so that you could search the scriptures daily ….
It would have been overwhelming to those members.
I don’t think many of those people who’d been given their own copy of the Bible would have let them collect dust on their shelf. In most cases, they would have really, thoroughly, profoundly appreciated those books. And that appreciation would have been clear in their Bible study habits.
But our Bibles today—even though they come to us easily because of technology—are every bit as valuable! We should cherish them, and even be emotional about the fact that we have our own copy of God’s Word, Jesus Christ in print, the Holy Bible.
Please turn in your Bible, in your very own Bible, to Revelation 1:3. This is about 700,000 words away from where you were in Genesis. You can turn slowly if you want to, and feel the weight of those pages and words.
Verse 3 says, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
This passage is specifically about the book of Revelation, but the principle can be applied to the whole Bible too. Blessed is he that reads the Bible.
God commands us to be serious about studying the Bible. He wants to bless us, and He can do that if we cherish our Bibles and read them. Really read them.
Deuteronomy 17 is a chapter containing God’s instructions for the king of Israel. Whoever became the king of His chosen nation had to follow the instructions in this specific chapter. And there’s one very fascinating command that God told the kings to do. “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them (verses 18-19).
This is similar, in some ways, to the students in Peter Waldo’s work-study program! The kings of Israel were ordered to sit down and write out a copy of God’s law by hand. They had to dip a pen in ink to write every letter of every word—of every sentence, of every scripture, of every chapter, of every book of the Bible. The Bible at that time was only the first five books, but that is still quite a lot of writing!
Why were the kings told to do that? As some kind of punishment? No! Verse 19 says the book “shall be with him” and “he shall read therein.” It was to read it, learn from it, and live by the wisdom contained in it.
The Bible says that all of God’s people are kings and priests. So this instruction applies to us, in principle. I don’t think we need to write the Bible out by hand, but we, as God’s royal kings in training definitely need to do what verse 19 says: Read the Bible “all the days of [your] life.” Why? So we can learn to fear God, keep His law, and do His commandments.
Here’s one suggestion I would like to encourage you to try that will help you to appreciate your Bible more. It will help you to show God how much you value and cherish having your own copy of His written Word.
Pick up a brand new notebook, and draw a line down the center of each page. Then, as part of your Bible study every day, spend a few minutes writing out a scripture or two in the left hand column. Then in the column right beside it, you could write out some of your own thoughts and comments and questions about the scripture. I recently started doing this with the book of Psalms, and it has really helped me to have more focus in my study and a deeper appreciation for the scriptures.
This doesn’t have to be all of your Bible study for a day, but maybe just 10 or 15 minutes of it. And as you do it, you might spend some time thinking of those students studying under the Apostle Waldo some 800 years ago. Think of them and how hard they worked to give Church members their own copies of the Bible.
Let’s deepen our appreciation for the fact that we own our very own copies of the Word of God, the Holy Bible.