Seven Minutes with the Director
Moses had a pedigreed education. He was raised in the home of the Pharaoh of Egypt, and the Bible points out that he was “. . . learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22). Since Moses was familiar with Egyptian thought – it would be reasonable to assume that, having been trained in Egypt, he would propagate Egyptian beliefs.
It is amazing, therefore, that although Egyptian cosmogony said that the earth came from an egg, Moses said, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). And, although Egyptian astronomy said THE EARTH GAVE LIGHT TO THE SUN, Moses said, “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven TO GIVE LIGHT UPON THE EARTH” (Gen. 1:16-17). And, notwithstanding the Egyptian anthropology which said man came from worms along the Nile, Moses said, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). Moses knew what the Egyptians did not know, because their world view was based upon the incomplete and inaccurate reasoning of man and his upon the revelation of God.
The Hindus said that the earth rested upon a turtle which, in turn, rested upon the back of an elephant. The Greeks said the earth was held up upon the shoulders of a giant atlas. And, the Egyptians thought the earth sat upon five great pillars. In amazing and marked contrast, the ‘earliest’ written book of the Bible declares, “He [God] . . . hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). Job knew what it would take other men thousands of years to find out – BECAUSE GOD HAD TOLD HIM.
Isaiah was way ahead of his time in his understanding of geography. He wrote of the One who “. . . sitteth upon the circle of the earth . . .” (Isa. 40:22), two thousand years before Columbus discovered that the world was round, Isaiah was sure of his facts BECAUSE GOD HAD TOLD HIM.
And, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews knew nineteen hundred years ago what scientists have only been able to prove within the last fifty years – namely that the physical, tangible, visible universe in which we live is composed of things invisible to the eye. He put it this way: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Heb. 11:3). This is fundamental in understanding the molecular, atomic nature of the universe. But, how did a theologian understand this centuries ago – unless GOD HAD TOLD HIM?
Peter was a popular preacher of his day. By divine enablement he looked down the corridor of time to view the end of human history. He clearly saw the destruction of the earth through nuclear explosion. But, let him speak for himself:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and the works that are in it, shall be burned up.
2 Peter 3:10
Scientists confirm that this is an accurate description of a nuclear explosion. As Moses explained the origin of the earth and heavens, Peter foretold their demise. He knew BECAUSE GOD HAD TOLD HIM.
Simply stated, revelation is the disclosing to man of truth which could not have been known apart from divine enablement. Moses, Job, Isaiah, Peter, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews and other biblical authors shared truths made known to them directly from God. Inspiration, on the other hand, is the superintending of God’s Word through men who were under the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit. Parts of the Bible came through direct revelation – but all of the Bible is God-inspired. The Apostle Peter described the process of inspiration this way: “. . . holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). And, the Apostle Paul defined the benefits of inspiration when he wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, That the man of God may be perfect [mature], thoroughly [completely] furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
The Bible is the map and compass for life’s journey. It is a book – a divine volume – a gift to man of infinite, unsurpassable wonder.
THERE IS THE WONDER OF ITS FORMATION. Most books are written within the span of a single lifetime. The Bible was written over a period of more than sixteen hundred years (1500 B.C. to 100 A.D.). Its human authors varied in lifestyle, education and geographic location. With few exceptions, they never knew one another and, in some cases, had never read the others’ writings.
THERE IS THE WONDER OF ITS UNIFICATION. The Bible includes within its pages history, biography, prophecy, philosophy, poetry and science. Still, there is one singular theme – sixty-six books which make a glorious whole – a golden chain that points to Jesus – a scarlet thread that speaks of redemption through His shed blood.
THERE IS THE WONDER OF ITS NATIONALISM. God, in the prerogative of divine sovereignty, chose the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to give this unsurpassable treasure to the world. The Bible, from a human perspective, is a Jewish book. Slice it anywhere between Genesis and Revelation and you will read of a Jewish land, a Jewish people, a Jewish culture and a promised Jewish Deliverer. The Bible studied out of this context is incomprehensible.
THERE IS THE WONDER OF ITS LANGUAGE. The book of beginnings (Genesis) sets forth with amazing directness the origin of earth, of man, of sin, of death and of potential redemption. At the other end of the spectrum, the book of unveilings (Revelation) with stark candor and graphic imagery tells how it is all going to end. And, in between are mountain peaks like the unexcelled style and language of the book of Isaiah, whose author walked with kings; and the impregnable logic of Romans which proclaims in bold letters that a holy God can redeem unholy men without becoming tainted by man’s sin – and all the while answering Socrates’ statement to Plato, “If deity can forgive sin, I don’t know how.”
And, who among men can do justice in describing the one hundred and fifty Jewish hymns called, in the Bible, the Psalms. The discouraged, the defeated, the downtrodden, the confused, the fearful, the lonely – men and women without number have drawn its truth to their bosom in the darkness of night to see the dawn of a new day.
THERE IS THE WONDER OF ITS APPEAL. The young man will find within its pages direction for living – the old man will find comfort, understanding and confidence in dying. The rich and the poor, the educated and the barbarian, the king and his subject – all have been magnetically drawn to this most amazing volume. Its appeal is timeless because it answers the questions, “Why was I born?”, “Why am I living?”, and “Is there life and hope beyond the grave?”
THIS WONDERFUL BOOK IS ETERNAL. Jesus himself repeatedly stated that fact. He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Mt. 24:35; Mk. 13:31; Lk. 21:33). The psalmist confirmed it with his words, “Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89). And, the Prophet Isaiah illustrated this eternality when he wrote, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of God shall stand forever” (Isa. 40:8). The importance of the eternality of God’s Word cannot be overemphasized. At wedding ceremonies men and women pledge their word to “. . . love and cherish till death do us part.” But, forty-five percent of all marriages are ending in divorce. Businessmen enter into agreements, often only to break their word when the agreement is no longer profitable. Nations enter into treaties with one another – but with the passing of time – with changing circumstances – when the treaty is no longer beneficial, the treaty is often broken. How refreshing it is to realize that, unlike sinful humanity, “God is not a man, that he should lie . . .” (Num: 23:19).
THIS WONDERFUL BOOK IS TRUE. It would be worthless to have a word from God that is eternal, if it were not also true. Hear the words of God the Son as He lifts His voice to God the Father in His high-priestly prayer: “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). “Sanctity” literally means to “set apart”. Jesus is asking His Father to set apart those whom He has redeemed through the truth of the Word. It would be futile to have an eternal word from God which is not true – or a true word which is not eternal. Eternality and truth must be wed to one another if God’s Word is to be profitable. See how beautifully the psalmist united these principles: “Thy word is true from the beginning, and every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth forever” (Ps. 119:160). God’s Word is eternally true, but it’s more than that.
THIS WONDERFUL BOOK IS LIVING AND POWERFUL. The author of the most evangelistic book of the Old Testament is helpful once again. He wrote, concerning God’s Word to man, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11). And, the writer to the Hebrews said, “For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. . .” (Heb. 4:12). There were a number of different kinds of swords in the ancient world. One had a sharp point and was designed for piercing. A second was light, had a sharp blade and was designed for cutting. A third had a sharp blade, was heavy and designed for cutting through the opponent’s weapon – it was cumbersome and had to be wielded with two hands. A fourth sword was invented which was lightweight and sharp on both sides of the cutting blade. This sword revolutionized ancient warfare. It is to this fourth sword that the writer to the Hebrews is referring. He said that God’s Word is a “two-edged sword” – it has the capability of cutting to the innermost recesses of a man, that eternal life might issue forth.
John Newton experienced the aliveness and power of that Word. As a youngster he ran away from home and went to sea. Eventually he became a ship’s captain. Involved in slave trade and all kinds of debauchery, Newton slid to the depths of despair and was contemplating suicide. The Word of God, which he had heard at his mother’s knee, was once again brought to his attention and he was gloriously saved. John Newton became one of the church’s great preachers and most prolific hymn writers. Among his many hymns was, “Amazing grace – how sweet the sound – that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found – was blind but now I see. . . .” He had experienced firsthand that eternally true Word of God which is alive and powerful and able to transform a condemned, vile sinner into an eternal son of God.
How utterly tragic that mankind should disdain, so great a treasure as the Word of the infinite God and disdain it the world does. The Bible is ignored, ridiculed or rejected by the great mass of unregenerate humanity; little more than a dust collector for a large segment of those who call themselves Christians; and often preached more about than from by us who call ourselves conservative, evangelical, fundamental Christians. We ministers are too often guilty of using a text as a springboard and then sharing our own thoughts; or giving application from a biblical text without first interpreting the text being considered; and/or totally ignoring the historical, grammatical, cultural background out of which the eternal truth comes. As a result, many who name the name of Christ are biblically deficient, notwithstanding many years of instruction in Bible-believing churches. And then, perplexed, we wonder why so many of God’s people are ‘anemic’, unstable, following divergent doctrines and making shipwreck of their lives. This is not an unrealistically harsh appraisal of the present hour – but it is, the Bible declares, an indication of the nearing of the end of the age (2 Tim. 3:1-7; 4:1-4).
Today there is not so much a need to defend God’s Word as there is a need to proclaim it. Perhaps Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, said it best. When asked if he defended the Word of God, he responded, “Yes, the way I would defend a lion. I just open the cage and let it out.”
God’s Word is eternal; it is true; it is alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. It need only be pulled from the scabbard and bared for use by a courageous band of believers. Its hot, flashing blade will do the work. The Bible is the only thing that can stop the insane, out-of-control, spiraling descent of the planet Earth.
The primary need of the true church is not more money, new programs or slick Madison Avenue promotion – but rather, lives transformed by exposure to the eternally true and gloriously alive Word of God.