Do You Revere the Word of God?

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Dear friends, this is the inaugural article for my new weekly Religion column entitled, “Come let us Reason Together” (Taken from Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool”). It is based upon the conviction that Jesus Christ is the only answer to the human dilemma, and therefore, His sinless life and sacrificial death have truly accomplished salvation for everyone who believes in Him (John 3:16). Further, because I have embraced God’s Word, the Bible, as objective Truth (John 17:17), and Jesus Christ as the embodiment of Truth (John 14:6), each article will be undergirded by those truths, but centered upon the specific subtitle for that week (i.e., as in this week’s subtitle, “Do you Revere the Word of God?”). 

My plan is to “Reason Together” with you over the gospel (“the good news”) for your salvation, and/or from a variety of Scriptures for your spiritual growth in Christ. My prayer is that these studies will not only increase your knowledge of God’s Word, but especially cause you to regularly and practically consider what kind of person the Lord looks upon with favor each day. Therefore, I begin this column with Isaiah 66:2b as a wonderful step toward my stated aim: “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My Word.” When Isaiah penned those words, he was giving a final warning to ancient Israel about the danger of a merely “external” religion. They had been a nation much enamored with the temple and its “external” magnificence. But now the Lord points out to them that His people are to be a respectful people, a repentant people, and a reverent people who tremble before His Word -- not merely tremble before His earthly temple. So, keep this in mind as you read the following words which immediately precede the words of our passage for today: “Thus says the LORD: Heaven is My throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for Me, and what is the place of My rest? All these things My hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD…” (Isaiah 66:1-2a). No “man-made” edifice should ever be more than an “outward” symbol to God’s true people because it could become cherished above the reality! This was the problem in Isaiah’s day, it was a problem in our Lord’s Day, and it is a problem in our own day!

 

Question: So, how does a person move from skin-deep faith that is knowingly or unknowingly concerned with external religion, to a soul-deep, vital and expanding experimental or experiential faith? Put another way, how does a person move from a limping, half-dead, undisciplined faith, to a consistently vibrant, inside-out, and persistent faith? Answer: He does so by pursuing an ongoing personal encounter with God Himself through His living Word. This text instructs us that God looks with favor upon such a believer, “But this is the one to whom I will look….” Whenever God’s people encounter God in this way and are truly impacted toward personal reformation, it is always a humbling experience. Isaiah teaches us that the Lord blesses those who revere His Word: “…he who is humble….” Jesus said, “Blessed is the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Our Lord meant here that people who see what they really are (spiritually impoverished), in light of what God really is (holy and exalted), they become the recipients of His daily favor. They are humbled by God, blessed by God, and ultimately exalted by Him. The sin of pride which had once engulfed them, is now temporarily in check, as they learn to daily draw strength from God’s Word in their war against this menace -- for he knows that it is God alone who brings about this alien humility. Dear friends, is it not our prideful hearts that keep us from God’s Word and therefore God Himself? Is it not our pride that keeps us in the shell of external religion? O how God loves to bless the humble, self-abasing and self-denying child of God. O how God loves to bless those who recognize His greatness and respect His Person. Isaiah continues, “…and contrite in spirit….” The man whom God favors is not only a man humbled by God, but he is also a man broken over his sin. The original Hebrew language here describes a man who is smitten or stricken by his sin. The Word of God has come to him and has laid him bare. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” It does this work upon the believer because God has given him sensitivity to His Word. The Word has cut him and he is pained by his sin until it is pardoned (Hosea 6:1). This means that he is a man of evangelical repentance. The Word is revered by him and it thereby performs its work within him, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Such a tender heart before God will always be received, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). Now this evangelical sensitivity and its partner, alien humility, have a common source -- a reverent receptivity to the Word of God. Isaiah adds, “…and trembles at My Word.”  When God’s people receive His Word with proper reverence, they become the blessed recipients of His felt presence because He looks upon them with favor. This language of trembling is full of shocking imagery. The original has the root meaning “to quake,” from which we derive the meanings of “fear” and “tremble.” More specifically, it denotes a reverent longing to obey the living Word of God. This response is exactly the opposite of Felix’s trembling before the apostle Paul (Acts 24:25), and very much like that of the response by the godly child-king of Judah, Josiah, to the public reading of God’s Word (2 Kings 22:1-2, 18-19). The great British Bible commentator Matthew Henry once described the worshipper who trembles before God’s Word in this way: “Such a heart is a living temple for God; He dwells there, and it is the place of His rest, it is like heaven and earth, His throne and His footstool. Hear the Word of the LORD, You who tremble at His Word”: And God spoke through Isaiah these words, “Hear the Word of the LORD, you who tremble at His Word: ‘Your brothers who hate you and cast you out for My name's sake have said, “Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy”; but it is they who shall be put to shame’” (Isaiah 66:5). O dear reader, do you tremble before the Bible, the Word of God?

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