The Treasure of God's Word
"For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing apart of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12
Deep in the centre of the earth, a diamond is formed. Though many will admire its beauty and usefulness, when its formation is complete …no one views the process by which it is formed. It is hidden, unseen, in the darkness, so is the Word of God hidden deep in the heart of man.
"Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105
There is an eternal purpose in those places of darkness, where no one sees what is going on… God’s Word will form us into something beautiful in the Spirit. The Word will strengthen us for a place in His Kingdom just as diamonds have a unique place of usefulness in industry - they can cut through anything! Two conditions are necessary for the formation of diamonds …heat and pressure. The diamond is the hardest natural substance on earth and is regarded by many as the most beautiful of all gemstones. Rough diamonds, taken out of the ground, resemble gravel more than they do the beautiful stones that we see in engagement rings and necklaces. It takes professional diamond cutters using special tools to shape the gem into something beautiful. In fact, the only substance that can polish a diamond, because of its hardness, is another diamond …and in the same way we can only be polished by God’s Word.
The most notable use of diamonds is as gems. But diamonds don't start out that way …they must be subjected to the process that will develop their beauty and usefulness. Similarly, the Word of God in the heart of man is hidden, unseen and working to perfect us. As the diamond is cut, the imperfections are revealed. These internal imperfections are what help to determine how valuable the diamond is. There is such a thing as a "flawless" diamond and is therefore a highly desirable thing. A diamond is considered "flawless" if NO imperfection can be seen when it is magnified ten times. However, if you increase the magnification enough, every diamond has some flaw or imperfection!
The Bible, the Word of God, though brilliant, precious and valuable …is NOT like the diamond in this way …it is truly flawless! The Word of God is completely true and free from error! Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” Since a perfect, trustworthy God has caused His words to be written down and preserved in the Bible. It can be trusted as being free from error, mistake or flaw! For centuries, men have closely examined it, sometimes claiming to find imperfections and errors, but in the end, the Bible still stands as the perfect Word of God …without error or flaw. The Bible claims to be God-breathed words, and that God himself, started the process of writing down these words.
Because of the brilliance, hardness, and rarity of diamonds, it is the most famous gem …but what makes it rare or valuable…? Amazingly, although diamonds are the strongest substance in the world, it is made from the same substance (carbon) as common sand that we walk on. What makes diamonds valuable is the process that they've gone through! Even after we surrender our lives to Yeshua (Jesus), a process must take place …we must be cut, shaped and polished, if we are to shine for Him. We must learn to trust that He's in charge of our lives even when it looks like nothing's happening. His best work is taking place in us when it seems nothing is going on. Like the diamond, or gem, deep in the centre of the earth its ‘pressure’ is its strength. The diamond has long symbolized the qualities of purity and strength. The process involved in its formation renders the substance virtually indestructible. It is the hardest surface known to man.
The “processing” of diamond ore involves a separation. Diamonds must be sorted from the other materials surrounding it and this process relies primarily on diamond’s high density …by use of a pan or swirling motion. At times we might feel as though things are swirling out of control but we must trust that God is on the throne and that His Word is flawless. “He knows the way that I take. When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold,” (Job 23:10)
Why would God hide something or someone in the first place…? The Scripture says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search the matter,” Proverbs 25:2. Even the English text shows us that to His glory, God hides things. The Hebrew text, however, gives us a bit more insight into His purposes. The root of the Hebrew word translated as “conceal” is “satar.” This word means “to hide or conceal” but it denotes something that is concealed for the purpose of provoking someone to look for it. It would be similar to the children’s game of “hide and seek.” The very reason to go hide something is so that someone will come seeking. Thus, we understand that our amazing God hides things or persons, so that someone will be “provoked” to look for what is “concealed.” Furthermore, to find the “concealed” things means that one has to look “beneath the surface! No one ever finds “treasure” lying on the surface, but always buried beneath the ground, just like the diamonds. This helps to insure that those who are seeking will find the treasure at the precise time. God’s Word is full of treasure and all we have to do is to search deep and we fill surely find what we are looking for!
The Bible IS the Words of God and it carries the weight of the One who has spoken them. If God isn’t trustworthy then we shouldn’t trust His Words! It’s important to remember that because the Bible is the Word of God! The “God breathed” Words - this Word is tied to His character. If His Word would prove untrue, that would show God to have lied - something He is incapable of doing. God cannot lie because He is perfect and holy … He is NOT like us! Numbers 23:19; “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” His words are true because He is true and His perfections and faithfulness are the reason why we can trust His Word. Psalm 12:6; “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. The Psalmist says here that all of the words of the Lord are without any impurity, like pure silver that has been refined. God’s Word is pure and perfect! Psalm 119:160; “The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous rules endures forever.” When the psalmist adds together all the words of God, the result is truth: they are all reliable, truthful, firm, and able to be trusted and depended on. There is NO falsehood NOR un-reliability in them.
The Bible was written over a span of 1500 years, by 40 authors… Unlike other religious writings, the Bible reads as a factual news account of real events, places, people, and dialogue. Historians and archaeologists have repeatedly confirmed its authenticity. Using the authors' own writing styles and personalities, God shows us who He is and what it’s like to know Him. There is one central message consistently carried by all 40 authors of the Bible: God, who created us all, desires a relationship with us. He calls us to know Him and trust Him. The Bible not only inspires us …it explains life and God to us. It does not answer all the questions we might have, but enough of them. It shows us how to live with purpose and compassion and how to relate to others. It encourages us to rely on God for strength, direction, and enjoy His love for us. The Bible also tells us how we can have eternal life.
Does Archaeology substantiate the Bible’s historical accuracy…?
Archaeologists have consistently discovered the names of government officials, kings, cities, and festivals mentioned in the Bible …sometimes when historians didn’t think such people or places existed. For example, the Gospel of John tells of (Yeshua) Jesus healing a cripple next to the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. The text even describes the five walkways leading to the pool. Scholars didn’t think the pool existed, until archaeologists found it forty feet below ground, complete with the five walkways. The Bible has a tremendous amount of historical detail, but unfortunately NOT everything mentioned in it has yet been found through archaeology. However, not one archaeological find has conflicted with what the Bible records. Many of the ancient locations mentioned by Luke, in the Book of Acts in the New Testament, have been identified through archaeology. “In all, Luke names; thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities and nine islands without an error!”
Archaeology has also refuted many ill-founded theories about the Bible… For example, a theory still taught in some colleges today asserts that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), because writing had not been invented in his day. Then archaeologists discovered the “Black Stele.” “It had wedge-shaped characters on it and contained the detailed laws of “Hammurabi” (a well-preserved Babylonian law code of Mesopotamia). It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. Was it post-Moses? No! It was pre-Mosaic …not only that, BUT it was pre-Abraham (2,000 B.C.). It preceded Moses’ writings by at least three centuries. Archaeology consistently confirms the historical accuracy of the Bible!
“I am God, and there is no one like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure,” Isaiah 46:9-10. Only God can know the absolutes of the future. Nevertheless, He does give us a clue through His Word how to understand the future. He hints to us that the “end” can be found in the “beginning.” You see, He does not declare the end “from the end,” but “from the beginning.” That is why many find it difficult to understand the Book of Revelation – the end – until they take time to understand the Book of Genesis – the beginning! Therefore is we start from the beginning and read through to the end most (not all) of the mystery becomes clear.
Has the Bible changed over time? Or, do we have what was originally written…? Some people have the idea that the Bible has been translated “so many times” that it has become corrupted through stages of translating. If the translations were being made from other translations, they would have a case. But, translations are actually made directly from original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic source texts based on thousands of ancient manuscripts. The Old Testament’s accuracy was confirmed by an archaeological discovery in Israel in 1947. “The Dead Sea Scrolls” whilst the majority was written in Hebrew the collection also includes Aramaic and Greek text …containing Old Testament scripture dating 1,000 years older than any manuscripts we had. When comparing the manuscripts at hand with these, from 1,000 years earlier, we find agreement 99.5% of the time. And the .5% differences are minor spelling variances and sentence structure that doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence.
The New Testament is humanity's most reliable ancient document… There are thousands of copies of the New Testament all dated closely to the original writing. In fact, we are surer the New Testament remains as it was originally written by its authors …than we are sure of writings we attribute to Plato, or Aristotle, or Homer's Iliad.
Do Historians confirm what the Bible says about Yeshua (Jesus)…? The Bible reports that Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth performed many miracles …was executed by the Romans …and rose from the dead. Numerous ancient historians corroborate the Bible’s account of the life of Jesus and his followers:
Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 55-120)… an historian of first-century Rome, is considered one of the most accurate historians of the ancient world. In an excerpt from Tacitus tells us that the Roman emperor Nero… “Inflicted the most exquisite tortures on Christians. “Christ” from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus....”
Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian (A.D. 38-100)… wrote about Yeshua (Jesus) in his Jewish Antiquities. From Josephus, “we learn that Yeshua was a wise man who did surprising feats, taught many, won over followers from among Jews and Greeks, was believed to be the Messiah, was accused by the Jewish leaders, was condemned to be crucified by Pilate, and was considered to be resurrected.”
Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, and Thallus… also wrote about Christian worship and persecution that is consistent with New Testament accounts.
Even, the Jewish Talmud… who often sites the Old Testament certainly not biased toward Yeshua concurs about the major events of his life. From the Talmud, “we learn that Yeshua (Jesus ) was conceived out of wedlock, gathered disciples, made claims about Himself, and worked miracles.” The Talmud is a huge collection of doctrines and laws compiled and written before the 8th Century AD by ancient Jewish teachers. According to Talmud scholars, the Talmud is the written form of the teachings of the Pharisees, the very sect of Jews with whom Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth argued. The Talmud is the written form of that which in the time of Yeshua was called “the traditions of the Elders.”
This is remarkable information considering that most ancient historians focused on political and military leaders, not on obscure Rabbi’s from distant provinces of the Roman Empire. Yet ancient historians (Jews, Greeks and Romans) confirm the major events that are presented in the New Testament, even though they were not believers themselves.
Are there contradictions in the Bible…?
While some claim that the Bible is full of contradictions, this simply isn’t true. The number of apparent contradictions is actually remarkably small for a book of the Bible’s size and scope. What apparent discrepancies do exist is more curiosity than calamity. They do not touch on any major event or article of faith. Here is an example of a so-called contradiction …Pilate ordered that a sign be posted on the cross where Jesus hung. Three of the Gospels record what was written on that sign;
Matthew: “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.”
Mark: “The king of the Jews.”
John: “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.”
The wording is slightly different, therefore the apparent contradiction. The remarkable thing, though, is that all three writers describe the same event in such detail – Yeshua (Jesus) was crucified. On this they all agree! They even record that a sign was posted on the cross, and the meaning of the sign is the same in all three accounts! They agreed that He was… “The King of the Jews!”
The main reason the Gospel accounts were not written immediately after Yeshua’ death and resurrection is that there was no apparent need for any such writings. Initially the gospel spread by word of mouth in Jerusalem. There was no need to compose a written account of (Yeshua) Jesus' life, because those in the Jerusalem region were witnesses of Yeshua and well aware of his ministry. However, when the gospel spread beyond Jerusalem, and the eyewitnesses were no longer readily accessible, there was a need for written accounts to educate others about Yeshua’s life and ministry. Many scholars date the writing of the Gospels between 30 and 60 years after Yeshua’ (Jesus) death. Luke, at the beginning of his gospel, tells us why he wrote it: "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may have certainty of the things you have been taught,” Luke 1:1-3
Throughout history, both Jews and Christians have honoured the Word of God. The concept of authority of God’s Word is found from Genesis to Revelation. As the Bible was being created, God’s Word was spoken and dynamic. The Word of God is alive and dynamic as we apply the Bible, His Word, to our lives.
In the Scriptures the God of creation makes Himself and His will known by His Word. When God speaks, things happen, and His Word accomplishes what it sets out to perform. God says through Isaiah, “So is My Word that goes out from My mouth, it will not return to Me empty (void), but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) From the opening chapter of the Bible in Genesis, we see how God created the entire universe by His spoken Word. “And, God said, “Let there be light, and there was light,” Genesis 1:3. The phrase “And God said” is found throughout Genesis! When God spoke there was a direct action that fulfilled His Word as creation unfolded before Him. In this case, God’s Word is not just another part of history … but creates history!
God’s Word is instructive and prophetic… God not only creates by His Word, BUT He gives instruction and direction to man so that we can know how to live before Him and be blessed. God uses prophets to do this. In the Bible God calls the prophet to this work; Isaiah 6; Jeremiah 1; Ezekiel 1 …etc, and is the person through whom the Word of God comes. He received the revelation from God as he heard God speak to him, or through dreams and visions. Then, the message was delivered by proclamation, often confirmed with signs and wonders or a miracle.
God’s Word is truth… it is the most important attribute and carries a sense of “faithfulness” and “reliability.” What God says is true and what He says in reference to the future …there is NO doubt it will come to pass! Sometimes God’s Word seems hard. That is because it calls us to live in a righteous life that is often contrary to the less than perfect lives we live. For that reason God’s instruction is also called “the law.” If we live according to His commandments and live righteous lives then the laws of God are not negative nor bondage and heavy … But rather “grace.” The Psalmist describes God’s laws so perfect in Psalm 19:7-11. One of the most amazing Psalms’ of the Bible …praising and highly glorifying the virtues of the Word of God is Psalm 119. It really shows us the blessings of following the Word of God:
The Word stands in heaven and is eternal (verse 89)
It is a light on the path (verse 105)
It keeps you pure (verse 9)
It gives life (verses 25, 93, 144 and 159)
It gives strength (verse 28)
It gives understanding (verse 169)
Its sum is truth (verse 160)
It gives freedom (verse 45)
It is hidden in the heart (verse 11)
It gives peace (verse 165)
It brings joy (verse 111)
It is sweet to the taste of the righteous (verse 103)
It may be trusted (verses 42 and 86)
It is a refuge and a shield (verse 114)
Hope can be found in it (verse 43, 49, 74 and 147)
It demands obedience (verses 4, 8, 56, 57 and 60)
It brings as much delight as finding a great treasure (verses 14 and 162)
The tongue of the righteous will speak of it (verse 117)
In the end God’s Word is the object not only of faith and hope, but also of love. This is why the Psalmist can shout, “Oh how I love your law!” (Verse 97)
Throughout the Bible, there is major emphasis on obeying the Word of God and “doing” it. It is not enough to merely hear the Word of God and read its benefits. You have to actually practice what is preached. To merely hear it, is like receiving a beautifully wrapped present and just looking at it. It is beautiful, for sure, but to gain the benefit of it, you must open the gift and use what is inside. James says, “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word, but does not do what it says is like a man that looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25
The Jewish people took, and still do today, take the practice of God’s Word very seriously, earnestly teaching their children so that God’s Word would also positively affect the community of Israel and to carry on into future generations. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21) It has been said that true religion involves not only hearing, but doing. It is deed over creed… action over profession, which is also the usual Jewish approach to religion, morals and life…. It is the Biblical approach. Yeshua (Jesus) said, “Blessed, rather are those that hear the Word of God and obey it.” Paul elaborates on this in Romans 2:13, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
Alf & Julie Saunders
01st February, 2015
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