The Reverence Due to the Word of God
"Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord, which He had spoken to him, on a scroll. And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, "I am restricted; I cannot go into the house of the Lord. So you go and read from the scroll which you have written at my dictation the words of the Lord to the people in the Lord’s house on a fast day. And also you shall read them to all the people of Judah who come from their cities. Perhaps their supplication will come before the Lord, and everyone will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and the wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people…Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it out of the chamber of Elishama the scribe. And Jehudi read it to the king as well as to all the officials who stood beside the king. Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning in the brazier before him. And it came about, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut it with a scribe’s knife and threw it into the fire that was in the brazier, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier. Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments. Even though Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah entreated the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them." (Jer 36: 4-7, 21-25).
The above referred to incident as recorded in the prophet Jeremiah is perhaps one of the most chilling passages written in the Word of God for its portrayal of an individual’s sheer disdain of the Word of God. Who can but read it and not be struck with the arrogant contempt demonstrated by this haughty and reckless king. Imagine taking a Bible and throwing it into the fire because something in its contents crossed you and went against the grain of your lustful desires! Lest you should think that the Lord of hosts was unmindful of this scornful treatment of His eternal Word, listen to the sentence pronounced against this vainglorious man:
"And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, ‘Thus says the Lord, You have burned this scroll, saying, ‘Why have you written on it that the king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall make man and beast to cease from it?’ Therefore, thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah, ‘He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. I shall also punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity, and I shall bring on them and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah all the calamity that I have declared to them – but they did not listen’". (Jer 36: 29-31).
One important lesson that we can learn from this incident is that our attitude towards God’s Word is indeed a serious thing. The Word of God is not the word of a mere mortal creature. It is not the opinion of some frail man of the dust, neither is it just a different perspective offered by a spectator of world affairs. It is the authoritative voice of the Possessor of heaven and earth. As such it is not something to hearken and give heed to depending on our whim at the moment. It is to be held in reverence and submitted to simply because it is the word of God Himself. Listen to what the Lord says concerning this:
"Thus says the Lord, ‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,’ declares the Lord. ‘But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.’" (Isaiah 66: 1-2).
How many would dare defy the Almighty God directly to His face should He peel back the veil between this world and the realm of the spirit and speak directly out of his throne room to them. Imagine the poor pitiful creature being confronted with the Consuming fire as His voice would roll over them like a thousand thunderclaps. Imagine their proud haughtiness fleeing like a shadow as the ground beneath their feet shook and heaved to and fro. Imagine them cringing in utter terror as the lightning bolts that filled the skies at Sinai flashed in blazing splendor all about them. Yet how many think nothing of trampling upon the written word of this selfsame God by ignoring it altogether. Worse still is the case of those who would selectively choose those portions which suit them and cast aside the others which condemn their sinful behavior. Like the evil king Jehoiakim they will not stand to hear the bad news of the doom that awaits them as payment for their iniquitous lives yet they are all too quick to claim the divine promises of blessing as their own.
This was the tragic case of Israel of old who foolishly believed that they could trample on the divine commands and yet somehow escape the consequences. Their sinful and complacent attitude toward the word of the Lord led directly to their own destruction. Listen to what the Scriptures record of their contempt of God’s Word that led to their downfall and ruin.
"But they became disobedient and rebelled against Thee, and cast Thy laws behind their backs and killed Thy prophets who had admonished them so that they might return to Thee, and they committed great blasphemies." (Neh 9: 26).
"But to the wicked God says, ‘What right do you have to tell of My statutes, and to take My covenant in your mouth? For you hate discipline, and you cast My words behind you’." (Psalm 50:16-17).
It is obvious that they did not revere the word of God but treated it as a common sort of thing they could dispose of if it inconvenienced them in any way. They did not tremble before it. They were not grateful for it. They did not esteem it. They did not value it. If anything, they despised it as "cramping their lifestyle". But watch what God says that they were guilty of in despising it and "casting it behind their backs".
"Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Because you forgotten Me and cast me behind your back, bear now the punishment of your lewdness and your harlotries’." (Ezek 23: 35).
Do you see it? God said that in casting His words behind their backs, they were guilty of casting Him behind their backs. In other words, their treatment of the Word of the living God was one and the same with their treatment of God Himself. One cannot escape the force of this.
Yet how many are there in today’s church who claim to love and honor God and at the same time think nothing of trampling His word beneath their feet and despising His authority. His commands for purity of heart and of life are regarded as something that may be dispensed with at whim. If a command of His happens to cross their self-willed interests, they simply ignore it hiding behind the claim of "Christian liberty". Worse yet are those who ignore it altogether while seeking refuge in some supposed "sinner’s prayer" they recited so long ago that they cannot remember. They foolishly believe that the claims of the Almighty are optional in their own particular case. Of course, things like holiness and repentance are wonderful things they would say, yet their own lukewarmness and half-hearted pursuit of these things speaks how little they are really and sincerely affected with the claims of the Divine Majesty.
The command to "be ye holy as I am holy" is just that – a command from God Himself. It is not a suggestion or some optional attire to be added to the Christian life much as one would add a scarf to complete an ensemble. Rather is it an essential quality that we fail to pursue at our own risk.
"Pursue…holiness without which no man will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12: 14).
Hence the business of the true child of God is to submit his or herself to this authoritative voice of God and make it the great business of their life to learn how they may more fully comply with this. That is showing the proper reverence and due honor that should be accorded to God’s word and hence to His person.
Another manner in which men despise God’s Word and by default, His being, is by refusing to submit their notions concerning Him to His word. Most people have a plethora of preconceived ideas as to how they view God’s character and being. The problem with this is that they are false images based on false conceptions. Only in His word has God clearly revealed Himself to man. Yes, He may be known somewhat through nature as Romans 1 testifies, but this reveals only His eternal power and Godhead. It does not speak of His longsuffering, His holiness, His wrath, His love, His faithfulness, His righteousness, etc. In other words, the only way that men may come to truly know and understand the God who has made all things is to see what He has spoken concerning Himself in His written word.
Long ago, God taught this truth to His ancient people. Moses, in the book of Deuteronomy is recounting their history before his departure from this place of woe and sorrow. He recalls the day on which they were gathered together to receive the Ten Commandments at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
"Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you this day? Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and to your grandsons. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb (Sinai), when the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud, and thick gloom. Then the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form – only a voice." (Deut 4: 8-12).
Notice carefully what is emphasized here- the people saw no form. In other words, God wanted His people to form their image of Him based solely on His word. Nothing else! Not visions! Not dreams! His word alone! This was the divinely appointed manner in which they would come to know and recognize Him. If they would learn of His nature, His character, His ways, it must be through the revealed word of God. This cannot be overemphasized enough.
It is this truth which strikes at the very heart of idolatry and is designed to blast and wither the foolish and misguided notions of the Deity which mankind is far too prone to possess. We must form our image of God based solely and completely on the revelation He has given of Himself in His written word. Anything else is a form of idolatry in which men "carve an image" of God, not in a stone or in a block of wood, but rather on the tablet of their mind! This may be more subtle, more sophisticated, as it is not easily seen, but it remains idolatry. Why? Because it is worshipping a false image of God that was not based on His revelation to man. The man whose mind possesses this false image is in reality worshipping a figment of his own imagination! There is no absolutely no real difference between this and bowing down to a stone and calling it "God". Both "worshippers" are worshipping something that is not God but is rather merely what they think God is like!
This is why it is so critical to form our image of God based on the revelation He has given us in His written word. If our image of Him does not line up with that which He has spoken, then a proper reverence for His word will clearly evidence itself in the prompt jettisoning of every idea and notion that is contradictory to that word. No matter how cherished the notion, no matter how long it has been held, no matter how many reject it; if it is not in agreement with the written word, it must be discarded. Period! Failure to do so is the height of arrogance and creature folly and self-will. Yet again, how many do this today, especially in the area of God’s sovereignty in election refusing to bow their minds and their wills to the crystal clear revelation of this glorious attribute and yet shamelessly protest how much they love and honor Him! All this while denying His right to do with His creatures whatever He pleases.
It bears repeating that to refuse to submit our minds and our wills to the Word of God is to exalt ourselves above it, and by implication is to denounce it and effectively murder it. Perhaps one thinks that this is a bit of an extreme view. On the contrary – one only has to look at the history of the Lord Jesus Christ to bear this out. Remember, He is the living Word, the Word made flesh. Yet how did men receive this "Word"? Did they submit themselves to it? Did they rejoice that their erroneous notions were corrected by this "Word"? Did they humble themselves and gladly receive instruction at His feet? Were they willing to reject the former false notions they had concerning the true nature of God and His righteousness that this "Word" clearly revealed? Of course not – they murdered Him!
Why was this? Simply because they had no reverence for this "Word" of God. They refused to submit themselves to "It’s" authority and by consequence were not willing to jettison the false image they had of the Most High. When the Lord of hosts clearly revealed Himself to them, by this Word becoming flesh, they rejected "It", and hence the true image of God was snuffed out from their midst. This, all the while professing their great love and devotion for the very same God that they effectively murdered! This should give all of us pause to say the least as it clearly demonstrates the incredible hardness of heart and darkened understanding that possesses all of Adam’s fallen descendants.
The only place of safety then is for us to bow ourselves to the authority of God’s word and to submit all of our notions and ideas concerning Him and His ways to that selfsame word. "To the law and to the testimony" should be our cry. Failure to do so will result in our ruin and we will have no one to blame but ourselves and our own stubborn pride.
We need to learn that possessing God’s word is a rare privilege and should never be taken lightly or for granted. As the martyr John Huss said, "As long as we have God’s Word with us, He is with us". It is incumbent upon those who are afforded such a high and valuable honor, never to forget this. It took 70 years of exile in the land of Babylon to teach the children of Israel this lesson. These self-same men and women that had so lightly set by God’s word came away from that tragic experience with a whole new attitude towards it. Observe how the remnant that came out of Babylon to rebuild the ancient ruins of their homeland this time responded to the word of God.
"And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: and Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground." (Ezra 8: 5-6).
Here is profound reference for the word of the Lord. Would that we all would possess this same sense of awe and wonder towards it.
In closing let me ask, Christian, do you properly revere this Word? Do you bow before its authority and submit yourself to it? Do you tremble at its threatenings? Do you regard it as the voice of God speaking to you from heaven’s throne? Do you allow it to shape your life and order your conduct? In short, do you respect it? Prize it? Love it? Esteem it above all else? Can you say with blessed Job:
"My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food"? (Job 23: 11-12).
Let us examine our ways.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
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