Have you ever been asked if you’re a morning person or an evening person? My problem is that I tend to be both. Most days of the week I have early morning engagements, so I get out of bed at the crack of dawn to have coffee with somebody I’m mentoring or to lead a small group. But I also love to read, so most evenings I’m up late plowing through some book. Years ago my college roommate confronted me with the observation that I seem to treat sleep as an enemy to be resisted.

He was right—and this tendency of mine is not a good thing. In fact, it flies in the face of what God’s Word teaches us about sleep (Psalm 127:2): In vain you rise early and stay up late…for he gives sleep to those he loves. That’s a good reminder for me. This emphasis on the importance of sleep—or, in a broader sense, rest—can be found throughout Scripture. If you’ve been following the Scripture Union daily Bible reading schedule, you may have noticed this theme recently in Hebrews 4.

Let me tell you why I caught it. Whenever I read the Bible, there are four things I’m looking for—four observations that I regularly make about a text. In a previous blog, I mentioned the first of these four observations: truths about God. If you’re trying to get something for your life out of the Bible, just ask the question of any passage you’re reading: What does this text teach me about God?

Here’s a second observation to make: repeating words or ideas. If the same word or idea pops up numerous times in a passage, it’s quite likely that this is something God doesn’t want you to miss. So, as I was reading Hebrews 4 (back on April 8, 9), I noticed the word rest being used again and again and again—10 times in all!

Now, it’s not my intention in today’s blog to give you an extended explanation of what the writer of Hebrews is saying about rest. (Although I would encourage you to read the footnotes in a good study Bible on this topic in Hebrews 4—my NIV Study Bible gave me some helpful insights.) All I want to do in this posting is coach you to become an observant Bible reader by looking for repeating words or ideas. Circle or underline anything you see that pops up more than once.

This kind of observation is easy to make in the book of Hebrews, because repetition is one of the author’s favorite literary devices. Go back to chapter 2 and note the various ways he refers to Jesus’ humanity (v. 9/ he was made lower than the angels for a while; v. 11/ he’s of the same family as us; v. 11, 12/ he calls us brothers and sisters; v. 14/ he too shared in their humanity; v.17/ he had to be made like them, fully human in every way). The writer of Hebrews (inspired by the Holy Spirit) doesn’t want us to miss the fact that Jesus became one of us!

In the first half of Hebrews 3, you’ll also find a handful of repeating words: faithful; house; builder. These are important concepts to observe—and to unpack with the help of your study Bible’s footnotes. In the second half of Hebrews 3, you’ll come across numerous references to heart—specifically, the kind of heart God expects from us.

In Hebrews 5, don’t miss the word priest. In Hebrews 6, make sure you catch promise, hope and patience. In Hebrews 8, note the repetition of covenant. You see how this works? Caution: there won’t always be repeating words or ideas in every passage—but keep your eyes open for them.

In summary, allow me to repeat (pun intended), the first two kinds of observations to make when you’re reading the Bible:

-truths about God

-repeating words or ideas

You might want to list these two categories (and two more to come) on the inside cover of your Bible or journal to help you remember them. And if you enjoy making comments in response to blogs, I invite you to let me (and other readers) know what repeating words or ideas you come across over the next few days of Scripture Union’s Bible reading schedule.

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