"God's Word Is Relevant" (November 2009)
As I awoke the other morning, the Lord spoke something to my heart so clearly it was almost like hearing an audible voice. He said that His word was relevant for today and that it was not obsolete. I knew when He said that that this was to be our topic of discussion this month.
I am amazed at the number of people that consider the Bible as “outdated”, “antiquated” and “irrelevant” for today. And the people I am talking about are not just people who are non-Christians, but there are also an alarming number of pastors who are preaching this very thing. They are substituting Biblical principles for human philosophies. Globalism is replacing the absolutes of God’s word.
True, the Bible may have been written thousands of years ago of a period of time, and true, some things have changed throughout the centuries since it was written. For example, technology has advanced since then. It has advanced considerably just in my life time. We don’t ride in chariots or horse drawn buggies that take us days to reach even a short destination. We have automobiles that can take us anywhere we want to go in a matter of minutes or hours. We can communicate with people on the other side of the world with just the touch of a button. We have sent men to the moon, something only dreamed of centuries ago. There have been many changes since the Bible was written. But there are some things that haven’t changed- these are the things that I want to discuss that make the Bible relevant for today.
From the time of Adam and Eve until today we all bleed red blood when we are cut regardless of the color of our skin- that has not changed. What I mean by that is that some things are common to us all regardless of what period of time we live in, regardless of our geographical location, regardless of what gender or race we are, our needs are all the same from generation to generation.
The Bible is full of stories of men and women that were written as examples for us. “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1 Cor. 10:11) Why do we have these examples in written form? To let us know that the things that they went through or faced are the same things that we go through today. Let’s look at some of these people and see the things that we all have in common. We will find that life isn’t so different now days than it was back then.
“And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” (Exodus 12:29,30) One thing that has not changed is the fact that mothers grief over the loss of their children. They did in the first century, they still do in the twenty-first century. The mothers in Egypt grieved when they encountered the last plague- the death of the first born. The mothers in Israel did hundreds of years later when King Herod had all the baby boys killed. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” (Matthew 2:16-18) Mothers still grief today whether they live in the United States, Africa, Ecuador, Pakistan, or anywhere else in the world when they lose a child.
“Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:10-12) You know the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These three men where persecuted for their faith. They would not bow down and worship the golden image (false god) that the king had erected. Are people persecuted for their faith today? Are Christians being martyred because of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and their unwillingness to deny Him? Of course they are, persecution is not new, it’s been around for a while.
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” (Job 1:1) Recognize the name? The thing we remember most about Job is his suffering, and he suffered greatly. He lost all his children, his possessions, his servants and his health. (Job 1,2) Have you ever felt like you could relate to Job? Have you ever had some sort of disaster strike that left you homeless or penniless? Has a bad report ever come your way? Have you gone through some sort of illness and you weren’t sure whether you were going to die or not? We live in a world where disaster could strike any moment. There is no “sure thing”. We never know from day to day what might occur in our lives. Job woke up one morning like every other morning, but before the sun set his world was turned upside down. Does our world get turned upside down nowadays? Do any of us know what the future holds? Can we be assured that we won’t experience the same things? Mankind still suffers like we always have. Suffering and hardships are no respecter of persons- it comes to Christians and non-Christians alike, to the poor and the rich, to the educated as well as the uneducated. It sometimes comes on a small scale, but often on a larger scale- like was the case with Job. Geographical location doesn’t stop it- people all around the world experience it, it is not confined only to third-world countries.
“And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son: And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy first born; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me. And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed. And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing.” (Genesis 27:15,19,30,33-35) Jacob deceived his father in order to receive the blessing- a blessing that belonged to the first born Esau. Seems as though people thousands of years ago were conniving to steal what did not rightfully belong to them. Doesn’t seem as though much has changed today. People are still doing that. We find it in families, in the work place and even in the political arena. People will lie, cheat, steal or “walk on” someone else in order to get what they want. This happens a lot in businesses. Employees will often make their coworkers look bad if they think that it will gain them a higher position.
“And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” (Gen. 37:17b-21;24-28) Relationships started back in the Garden of Eden. Sometimes those relationships aren’t always the best in the world. Sometimes they don’t go so well- some relationships get on rocky ground. Sometimes there are conflicts in relationships and they become broken. Don’t you wish there were no conflicts- conflicts between spouses, siblings, parents and children, or anyone else for that matter? But sadly there are. There was in Israel’s family- the father who the twelve tribes came through. Joseph had brothers that were jealous of him to the point that they hated him and wanted to kill him. Doesn’t sound like “one big happy family” to me. This family also had some “skeletons” in their closet. The brothers that sold Joseph into slavery hid it from their father for years- the family secret. A vast majority of families today still have “skeletons” in their closets- such skeletons as incest, abuse and adultery. So you see, what we are experiencing today is not new. Conflicts in relationships go all the way back to Cain and Abel, which ended in murder. “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (Genesis 4:8)
“Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?” (2 Chronicles 1:10) King Solomon needed wisdom to rule God’s people. The need for wisdom has not changed. Rulers of nations, leaders of any people, fathers and mothers, etc., all need wisdom if they are going to be successful.
“And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; and had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.” (1 Samuel 30:1-4) These men may have been mighty warriors but they found themselves in a situation that caused them deep distress, grief and discouragement, so much so that they wept until they had no tears left to cry. Tell me, do people go through trying times today that would cause them to become discouraged? Again, this is one of those things that has not changed. I don’t care who you are, when you lived in history, what your status in life is, we all face things at times that seem more than we can deal with.
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:1-4) Sounds like the prophet was having a “pity-party”. He requested that the Lord let him die after he received a death threat from Jezebel. It also sounds like he had a case of “fear induced depression”. Have you ever despaired of living? Has something happened that made you wish you were dead? Have you ever been so fearful that you just wanted to run and escape the situation? If we were honest, most of us have been where the prophet was at some time in our lives. People are tormented by fear today. They get depressed. They feel like giving up on life. It’s not something new and confined to the present. Dealing with fears, depression, self-pity and despondency have been around for quiet some time.
I have run out of room to talk about some of the other things that have not changed throughout time that were common to the men and women of the Bible and to us today. Our basic needs have not changed- food, clothing and shelter. Also our need for love, compassion, mercy, healing, etc. The greatest need that is common to all people- past, present and future- is our need of salvation. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
As we have looked at the lives of some of the men and women in the Bible, we have seen that what happened to them still happens to us. Where did they find their help and hope? They found their answers from God’s word. So common sense would tell us that if God’s word was relevant for their situations then, and we go through the same situations as they did, then it is relevant to us today. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
Let me tell you some things about the scriptures. They are like a light to light up our path when it is dark. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Since when has a light in darkness been obsolete?
“He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Psalm 107:20) Who doesn’t need healing and deliverance- we still need it today and it comes through God’s word.
There is something important in the fact that the longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119 and each verse (all 176 of them) deals with the word of God- what it is, what it does, why it is necessary in our lives. God’s word brings hope, comfort, guidance, direction, peace, joy, victory, mercy, faith, wisdom, insight, understanding, answers and much more. If we find all these things within the pages of the Bible, when people say that it is not relevant for today are they saying that they don’t need all the things I have named? It is relevant. It always has been and always will be. The whole Bible deals with the needs of mankind and a loving God who desires to meet their needs. So, I submit to you, if the Bible deals with the needs of people and people’s needs have not changed throughout history, then the Bible is relevant in every time period- past, present and future.
In conclusion I would like to share this quote with you that I found about the Bible. It sums it up beautifully. This Book (the Bible) contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword and the Christian's charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgment, and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents. -Anonymous