The phrase Sola Scriptura means “Scripture alone.” This was one of the foundational principles of the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers believed that church tradition had been wrongly elevated to an equal position with God’s Word. Instead, the Bible should be given authority over the church.
In the same way, Scripture was to be at the center of Israel’s national life. Following the Torah (or the Pentateuch, that is, the first five books of the Bible) was one of the distinguishing factors for the Israelites as God’s chosen people (Ex. 19:6). As a community and as individuals, they were to commit themselves to obeying God’s Law. They would learn to do it together, in community.
One of the key traditions was the public reading aloud of the Law (Deut. 31:11), accompanied by expository teaching by the priests and Levites. An official copy of the Torah was also placed in the Ark of the Covenant, a symbol of God’s presence in Israel’s midst (v. 9).
These public readings were to take place every seven years, during the Feast of Tabernacles, a harvest festival that took place in September or October and also commemorated the Exodus (v. 10). Debts were to be canceled that year—a practical measure to keep poverty under control (Deut. 15:7–11). Everyone was to be included—men, women, children, even resident foreigners (Deut. 31:12). The children’s participation was particularly important for passing on Scripture to the next generation (v. 13), to “learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law” (v. 12).
The same holds true for us today. We should learn not just individually but also as a community—the church (Heb. 10:24–25)! Our worship must center around God’s Word.
>> Is the Word of God front and center in your church? How can you help pass on the respect of God’s Word to the next generation? Maybe God is leading you to your church’s youth or children’s ministries.
Bless the reading of Your Word in our homes and churches, so that we may listen and learn to fear You, oh Lord our God, and follow carefully all Your words (Deut. 31:12).