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In writing our commentaries we have tried to pull together the old as well as the new. We have consulted early Christian writers as well as several of the old standby commentaries of the last two or three centuries. We have also consulted some of the best modern studies on these biblical books. We have tried to include materials from many different popular preachers, teachers and writers. Our hope is that we can save you the tedious task of searching out and sifting through stacks of Bible studies and commentaries as you personally learn, prepare to teach or even preach from the Bible.
Our materials are written from our experience of over half a century in the Christian ministry; from sixteen years of experience in the Holy Land; and from many things the Lord Jesus has taught us over the years.
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All scripture quotations in our books and articles are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, (published by Zondervan Corporation, copyright, 1985) except where noted.
Let us together begin learning more about the Bible. Let us go deeper in the precious
Word of God.
Since we are focusing on the Word of God we wanted to start out with the important study article below. Please enjoy it.
Jim & Betsy Gerrish
THE ETERNAL WORD OF GOD
“…All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25
Hebrew scroll from the Western Wall, Jerusalem
Our modern world poorly equips us to understand “word” as it is used in the Bible. Every day we are surrounded with words, thousands and perhaps millions of them. We see them flash before us on word processors, ticker tapes, televisions, and newspapers. So often, words are almost meaningless to us. Today many folks regularly go back on their word. Our politicians backtrack and “stonewall.” There are cover-ups, broken vows and broken contracts everywhere.
We are far removed from that ancient time of the Bible when a man’s word was his bond. Back in those days when people made vows and oaths they kept them, even when it hurt (Psa. 15:4). In that day, Jephthah, before a great battle, made a vow to the Lord to sacrifice whatever came to meet him from his home. Perhaps he had some pet sheep or goats that always ran out to meet him. However, when he later returned home in victory his only child, a little daughter, ran out to meet him. So far as we know, he kept his vow and sacrificed her to God (Jud. 11:34-35).
Obviously we need a new respect for the concept of “word” as it is used in holy writ. Oh that we could today be like that Psalmist of old who said, “… my heart trembles at your word” (Psa. 119:161). If we only could be as Job, who said: “I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12).
The prevailing cheap attitude regarding the spoken word today certainly contrasts with Jesus’ teaching about the subject. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4: “…It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” He stressed in his teaching that “…the Scripture cannot be broken” (Jn. 10:35). How different was Jesus’ attitude to the word, than what we see in many churches and
theological circles today.
I can remember, even years ago, when Christian theologians used to scoff at certain books in the Bible. They laughed at the book of Jonah and treated it as some sort of myth, not realizing that they were also scoffing at the resurrection of the Lord. For we see in Matthew 12:40, that Jesus believed the book, and based his own resurrection on the information contained in it.
SOME THINGS ABOUT THE WORD OF GOD
Let us try to understand some things about God’s word.
God and his word are one and the same. The Apostle John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). God cannot be separated from his word, or go back on his word. Unfortunately for us, we tend to get separated from our words. We sometimes agree to do things for people and then we later have to back out.
God’s word is eternal. Because God himself is eternal, there is a real sense in which he cannot speak a word that is not eternal. That is so different from us mortals, because we cannot speak a word that is eternal, unless we happen to be speaking the word of God. Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” For instance, Paul once based his teaching about the compensation of God’s ministers (1 Cor. 9:9) on the dusty ancient law of Deuteronomy 25:4. This law forbids the muzzling of an ox as it is treading out the grain. No, God’s word does not pass away, but it continues on to be profitable for all teaching and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
God’s word is alive (Heb. 4:12). How different this is from all other words we read and hear. How this contrasts with yesterday’s newspaper. We would scarcely waste our time reading it since it is already outdated and a thing of the past. God’s word is never a thing of the past, outdated or dead. Again, in one sense, God cannot even speak in the past tense since he is ever living. What he said he is saying; what he commanded he is commanding, what he hated he still hates and what he loved he still loves. Sometimes it may appear that a certain word of God is dead. But we must not be fooled. God’s word is like a seed. It can lie dormant for a thousand years but when it is mixed with faith – poof! Suddenly new life springs forth.
God’s word is contemporary and relevant, as is any other living thing. For something to be true in the deepest sense it must be contemporary and relevant. We are seeing today that long forgotten precepts and teachings of the ancient law are bursting forth in the church with new relevance and energy. For instance, many churches are now using Israel’s festivals as teaching tools concerning God’s great plan of salvation. This should not surprise us, since God said long ago that these festivals would be “statutes forever” (Lev. 23:14, 21, 31, & 41).
God’s word is literally bursting with creative energy. In the Hebrew language, the expression for “word” is “davar.” How interesting that davar also means “thing.” There is a very close connection between the word and all created things. God spoke, and all things came into existence. When God speaks, things happen. This was true in the creation of the world, and it is true for us today.
We can see how this has been valid throughout the ages. Long ago Paul “discovered” a long hidden mystery in the word of God: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 3:6). With that discovery, or revelation, the infant Jewish church burst forth into the Gentile world. In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther “found” a verse in Romans, which was long before stated by the prophet Habakkuk: “… the righteous will live by his faith.” With that verse the Reformation
Today, hundreds of thousands of Soviet and Ethiopian Jews continue to return from the north countries and from the south-lands to Israel. Thus, we are seeing Isaiah 43:6 come alive again right before our eyes: “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of
NOW WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN TO US?
Because of all this, we know that we are serving a God who can be trusted. He can be trusted in all areas of our lives. Let us look at a few of these areas.
His word can be trusted in matters of our salvation. In Hebrews 7:25, it is said: “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” The scripture says, “…Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). It is just that easy. Millions have found this simple instruction to work. As the world-renown evangelist, Billy Graham, has often remarked, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!”
His word can be trusted in matters of our sanctification; of our walk before God; of our discipleship. Satan always attempts to undermine our position with God. One of his favorite tools is condemnation. How often we have to resort to God’s simple word to combat him. God says in Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus….”
In reality we are disciples of the word. Jesus said this in John 8:31, “…If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” As disciples of the word we sometimes have to take a stand against “voices,” if those voices emanate from the wrong source. We have to take a stand against “feelings.” Occasionally, we even have to take a stand against “facts.” After all, it was a “fact” that Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children. It was also a “fact” that hungry lions eat people and fiery furnaces burn them up, as in the case of Daniel and the Hebrew children. So we see, faith produces its own facts. These facts will endure because they are based upon the eternal word of God.
God’s word can be trusted in matters of prophecy and of the future. We already mentioned that today hundreds of thousands of Jews are returning to the land of Israel. When we consider that the prophecy about their return is now some 2700 years old, we can see how truly eternal God’s word is. The land of Israel is a daily witness to the fulfillment of God’s word. Ancient Israelite cities are being rebuilt according to the word (Isa. 44:26); the land is being restored according to the word (Isa. 51:3); over 250 million trees have been planted according to the word (Isa. 41:19-20); the wilderness is blossoming according to the word (Isa. 35:1). These are only a few of the miracles taking place, but we look for more astounding miracles in the days ahead, simply because it is written in God’s word.
The Bible says that upon Israel’s return to the land, God will perform a miracle in the Jewish heart and spirit. He will sprinkle clean water upon Israel and they will be clean (Ezek. 36:24-25). He will give Israel a new heart and a new spirit, even his own Spirit. Then they will follow God’s decrees and keep his laws (Ezek. 36:26-27). Jeremiah describes this beautiful miracle in another way. He tells how God will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, that he will put his law into their minds and write it upon their hearts (Jer. 31:31-33). All these astounding things will happen, simply because they are written in the eternal word of God.
Today, we are all being blasted with the words and opinions of men. The evening newscast is a good example of this. These opinions change by the day. In a week or even in another day these opinions may no longer be considered true. They are like the grass and flowers Peter mentions, but the word of God stands forever. If we build our opinions, our theologies, and our lives upon God’s word we will be like the man who built his house on the rock (Mt. 7:24-27). When the storms arrive (and they are surely coming) that man will not be shaken. All he has believed in and worked for will stand the test.
This updated article is presented courtesy of Bridges For Peace, Jerusalem
For those readers who are interested in Israel please visit our companion site at churchisraelforum.com