A few weeks ago I wrote about the Word. THE WORD. I was trying to explain what was simmering in my mind about the Word of God actually being THE WORD HIMSELF – the living Christ. And why the Bible speaks to us so intimately, timely and appropriately for our immediate situation…because it is a conversation with THE WORD HIMSELF. Of course, in order to have this timely conversation with God, that means we actually have to allow Him to talk to us….actually PICK UP the Word of God and open it and read it.
Charles Stanley’s In Touch magazine this month is all about the Bible, titled “Transformed by the Word.” As usual, God gives me His GC’s so I will pay attention. He is talking to me and His timing is always perfect…. I read a story this morning from one of the articles that I want to share. It touched my heart. It excited me, just as God intended it to. It ignited my desire to have an even deeper conversation with Him. I’m ready to read through the entire Bible again with a fresh heart like the people below who heard the epic story. I’m supposed to at this time. Just like my grandmother had started reading through the Bible AGAIN with her Sunday School the year she passed away. She’d like that. And so would He.
A few decades ago, a group of linguists were welcomed by a community in Indonesia. The purpose was to live with the tribe, learn their language and create a written alphabet so the Bible could be translated. Considering the scope of the project (66 different books with 1189 chapters), the translators initially figured that following standard procedure would be the most logical: start with a gospel book from the New Testament and get straight to the story of Jesus as soon as possible. But as they gradually learned the new language’s nuances and the culture behind it, they came to realize how important elaborate oral storytelling was to the tribe’s identity. The plan changed. If ever there was an epic story to tell, it was this one. And the story of Christ didn’t just start with His birth.
That year, the translators labored over their spoken language skills while one of them, an artist, drew hundreds of large, symbolic illustrations that followed the Bible’s narrative arc. Finally, they announced that they were ready. All the surrounding villages were notified, and on the day the storytelling was to commence, the entire tribe gathered to listen. And the translators started at the very beginning.
The process took days as they moved from character to character; the first people on earth who hid from God’ their son who killed his brother, Abraham, who climbed up a mountain to sacrifice Isaac; Moses, who led his people out of slavery; David the teenage shepherd who became a warrior king and legendary poet…The storytellers told of sin and loss and exile and God’s continual acts of redemption. And then they finally came to the end of Part 1 – 400 years of silence and waiting. The tribe hung on every word.
All this, and they still had yet to explain “the plan of salvation,” who Jesus was, and for that matter, what any of these stories had to do with one another. Yet, the day Part 2 began, the translators started to tell of a baby born in the darkness of night in the town of David, and something astonishing happened. The audience erupted in excitement. “This is the One!” they said, cries of recognition rippling through the crowd. “This is the One everyone’s been waiting for! He is the sacrifice, the Lamb of God who will take away the people’s sin!”
The Word of God goes beyond its written message, and even beyond history or prophecy or song. It goes beyond the ancient commandments and even the parables Jesus told. When taken in as a whole story that points to the Word Himself, the written letters are illuminated by God’s Spirit, revealing His grace and truth to us.
Want to read the whole story with me? I’ll be reading the Chronological Bible.
- 15 Days in the Word with John Piper – READ YOUR BIBLE MORE AND MORE (christlikeministriesnwa.wordpress.com)