“Forever, O LORD, Your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89 ESV).
As we read the Word of God, let us hope that we do more than just read and even just memorize what it says. Unless we begin to perceive the Author Who penned the Word of God through the living quills of human writers, we have seriously missed the point of the Bible. As we seek to navigate through life with not only mere survivors’ mentalities, but that of victors whose lives have significance and purpose, we must begin to perceive that the Bible is not simply a list of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots”. Neither is it merely a historical document or compilation of masterful literary works.
Oh, no. The Bible is quite actually the written record of the Living Word of God Himself. In its beginning, it points to the Living Word, Jesus; throughout its account of our world in its youth, it is Jesus to Whom it directs us. Even as that written Word draws to its grand conclusion, spelling out for us those things which have not yet all come to pass, its Subject, as well as its Author, is Jesus Christ.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3 ESV).
Oh, the tragedy of having read the Bible and not really seen the One Who stands behind it… the One Who stands full of grace and truth. In the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry before His crucifixion, He labored and sought to bring illumination to the gloomy condition of all of humanity… but for so many, their eyes were darkened. Indeed, those who professed to know the Scriptures simply refused to recognize its Author, though they were staring Him in the face. Nor could their ears discern the sweet melody of God the Father speaking to them through the Person of God the Son, Jesus. It did not matter that all that He said and all that He did was in fulfillment of the very Words they believed that they upheld. Though the Living Truth spoke the truth to them, they would not acknowledge the legitimacy of His testimony.
Jesus said, “…the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about Me that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Who sent Me has Himself borne witness about Me. His voice you have never heard, His form you have never seen, and you do not believe the One Whom He has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:36b-40 ESV).
How tragic! How ironic! Those who had spent their entire lives searching the written revelations of God had reduced it to rules and regulations, forgetting in the process that the point of the Law of God was to bring us close to Him.
David, who penned tremendous portions of the Old Testament, passionately pursued his relationship with His Creator, recognizing the inestimable worth of the Word that God had given the world. For him, the Word of God was a means by which we can come to know the Lord, and has been entrusted to us for showing us His ways, His purposes, and His presence.
And so David could write, “In Your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of Your mouth…. Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors” (Psalm 119:88, 24 ESV).
Even as God Almighty imparted His Words of life to His people in ancient times, those words were not given to place burdens upon His people, replacing the slavery of Egypt with an entirely new kind of slavery. His Words were given that they might become truly free – free to be what they had been created to be; free to pursue a divinely appointed destiny; free to truly become alive, with the distractions and undue bonds of selfishness amputated from their existence. Truly, the Words of God were “not just idle words for them, they were their life” (from Deuteronomy 32:47).
So what is the relevance of the Word of God for our daily living? And what does the Word of God counsel us to do? Is the pursuit of righteousness and a genuine life of faith realistic… especially when all the world seems to be out of control and all morality a thing of some forgotten age of long ago?
In Deuteronomy 30 God says that “This commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in His ways, and by keeping His commandments and His statutes and His rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it…. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life…” (verses 11-16 and 19-20a ESV).
Whatever ideas one may have about the Word of God, it must be understood that the Word has been given to us so that we may embrace Him… for He Himself is our life. Without His Word, we cannot come to know Him. And without Him, we are dead things though our bodies breathe and move and go about their daily business.
So… invited as we are to seek His face, to meet Him in the written revelation of Himself that we call the “Bible”, and to partake of life as we come to know Him and learn to trust Him, what will we choose today? Life…or death? Blessings… or curses? May we each choose today to pursue His offer of life.
“With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep Your statutes. I call to You; save me, that I may observe Your testimonies. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in Your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promise. Hear my voice according to Your steadfast love; O LORD, according to Your justice give me life.” (Psalm 119:145-149 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com.” Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)