What a precious treasure the Bible is! The Word of God contains sixty-six books, written by forty authors, over a period of some 1500 years. This becomes even more astounding when we realize that all these authors essentially agree with each other, although they came from many different time-frames and walks of life, from fishermen, to tax collectors,
to shepherds, to kings. The preservation of the Bible is equally miraculous and astounding. For instance, in 1947 a Bedouin boy discovered what came to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Interestingly, many of these scrolls were handed over to Israel at the precise time the United Nations was voting whether of not Israel could become an independent nation. The scrolls had lain buried for almost two thousand years throughout the whole time Israel was dispersed among the nations.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls gave us a copy of our Bible that was a thousand years older than any copy we possessed at that time. They gave us a complete scroll of Isaiah, which is now on display at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem. They also gave us fragmented copies of most other books of the Old Testament. The Dead Sea Scrolls have done much to verify the integrity of the Old Testament, and the Isaiah scroll is much the same old Isaiah that we have in our Bibles today.
We cannot help comparing all this with the Koran, the holy book of a billion-plus Moslems. It was written by only one man. There were no other previous writers to corroborate his supposed revelation. There was no stream of revelation reaching over 1500 years. Archaeologically speaking, there was no ancient salvation infrastructure to support the Moslem faith. This had to be quickly borrowed from the Jews and Christians. In fact, one of the very first acts of the Moslems was to conquer the Holy Land and build two of their mosques on the Temple Mount, claiming the whole area and its rich history as their
Yes, the Bible is a fantastic and amazing book. In previous centuries people greatly valued the Bible, but in our era it has been largely spurned and ignored by millions. However, when we look around us today, we see lives, families, and nations that are falling apart. Could this be precisely because the word of God has been depreciated, spurned and
THE WORLD’S VIEW OF “THE WORD”
It seems that there are two major things that have caused the word to be spurned. The first thing that has surely caused a cheapening of the word in our time has been the slow rot of unbelief in the Bible brought about by hyper-critical theologians and churchmen. This has been going on for at least two-hundred years. We know these processes today as “higher criticism” and “form criticism.” These efforts have left us with a Bible minus most of its supernatural and miraculous aspects. In short, it has become a book like most any other book and one that does not demand our absolute belief and allegiance.
The second thing that has caused this cheapening has been the rapid onset of what has come to be called the Postmodern Movement. This movement apparently began to influence the US around the middle of the twentieth century, and it hit the streets soon afterward, particularly in the 60s. A cardinal belief of postmodernism is that there is no universal standard of truth. Therefore, all truth is relative and one person’s truth is just as true as another’s. Thus our presentation of the Bible as the “everlasting truth of God” is almost laughable to many postmoderns today. We probably do not realize how quickly these attitudes have spread and how profoundly they have affected us especially in the US. Even in the early 1990s the researcher, Barna, discovered that 72 percent of young adults no longer believed in any standard of absolute truth.*
We can only wonder if Paul’s words of Romans 1:25 have at last come true: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.”
GOD’S VIEW OF THE WORD
When we open the Bible we soon discover that God’s view of the word is far different than man’s view. In 1 Peter 1:24-25 we read: “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.” It might very well be that Peter has reference here to the ideas and opinions of philosophers when he speaks of the “grass” and “flowers” that wither away. So we see here that God’s word is eternal. We see the same thing in many other places in scripture.
The Bible is a spiritual treasure. The ancient sufferer, Job, said: “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (23:12). Jesus himself said in Mathew 4:4: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
We soon discover that God and his word are in a sense one and the same, and that God cannot go back on his word. When Jesus came to this earth he came as the eternal word of God incarnate, or the word of God clothed with flesh. We read about his coming in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In verse 14 John adds: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
Jesus came to earth as the authentic first edition of the Living Bible. As his disciples followed him around the Galilee they were daily experiencing Living Psalms, Living Proverbs and Living Deuteronomy. One Jerusalem professor friend summed up the relationship of Jesus and the word with this little jingle: “Jesus is the Word; the Bible is the word about the Word; preaching is the word about the word about the Word; and theology is the word about the word about the word about the Word.”
From the scripture we know other things about the word of God. It is not only eternal, but it is also alive and powerful (Heb. 4:12). How different it is from the words of the daily newspaper. Newspapers are soon forgotten, but God’s word lives on for a thousand generations. Our eldest son once worked on an agricultural project in Israel. Their team was given a few precious ancient seeds to plant in hopes that the wheat variety of Israel in Bible times could be restored. These grains were some three thousand years old. Yet, much to the amazement of everyone the precious seeds came up and produced hundreds more of their kind. The Bible is like that. Although it looks old, dusty and dead, it can spring forth and bear much fruit in our lives.
For instance, during the last few years a million plus new immigrants came home to Israel. They came from the north (former Soviet states) and from the south (Ethiopia) just as Isaiah 43:5-6 said they would. They returned home because of a word that was some 2700 years old.
In the book of Genesis we read that God created the world out of nothing. He literally spoke the word and all things came into being (Gen. 1:3,6,9 ff,). It is truly interesting that in the Hebrew language, “word” and “thing” are the same (the Hebrew – da-var). We know by this that when God speaks things happen. “Word” and “things” continue to have a very close connection today.
In Hebrews 1:3 we read: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”
Also in Colossians 1:15-17 we read a similar thing: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” How amazing! Stars, universes, atoms, mountains, trees are all held together by Jesus the Word of God. Our hearts beat because of that word and we also breathe because of it. Conversely, those who choose to oppose God are opposed by his created order. An evil leader by the name of Sisera once opposed Israel. He was defeated of course and it was said of him in Judges 5:20: “From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.”
GOD WANTS TO REVEAL HIS WORD TO US
As we can see, those Christians today who believe the word of God and live by that word have a special advantage. They are in harmony with the creation that was brought about by the word of God. Sometimes it seems like an almost unfair advantage. Paul says in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Obviously the Lord wants his word to be precious to us and to become a part of the fabric of our lives. He wants to give each of us a special revelation of himself and of his word. Long ago the young child, Samuel, ministered in the Tabernacle at Shiloh. In those days the word of God was scarce and there were few visions (1 Sam. 3:1). Samuel’s situation reminds us a lot of our day in that the ministry was greatly polluted and the light had gone out in God’s house. Yet it pleased God in those days to speak to young Samuel. We read that God revealed his word to Samuel (1 Sam. 3:7 & 21). The result was that Samuel became a mighty prophet of Israel and was responsible for the nation’s revival and victory over its Philistine enemies.
God wants to reveal his word to each of us just as he did to young Samuel. In the quietness of our soul we only need to answer as Samuel did in 1 Samuel 3:10: “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Publication Date, 2009
*Barna Research Group Survey reported in Christianity Today, October 26, 1992, p. 30
Picture credit Wikimedia Commons