The book that bears the reputation as the world’s best seller is that book that has been used in our courts to swear in a witness, found in our hotel rooms and distributed throughout the world. Its manuscripts have been preserved from the first century and there are ancient copies that I under-stand have sold for over a million dollars. Today there are translators in remote civilizations that continue to develop copies of this message into the language of the native residents. In response to the call they received from God they are bringing His message to many remote civilizations, enabling them to read the message referred to as the Word of God.
I am reminded of my roommate at Wheaton College, Walter Steinkraus, who was a Wycliffe Bible translator in Papule, New Guinea. He and his wife Vonnie with their two daughters now lie buried beneath 14 feet of mud when a mountain of soil collapsed after intense rain covering their home while they were resting in it. Their work was not in vain, for I now understand that the people of Papule now can read God’s Word in their own language.
This book itself claims that is to be understood as the Word of God. The statement over and over again in the Old Testament repeats the phrase, “Thus saith the Lord…” In the New Testament it is confirmed that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (teaching), for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished for all good works. Scriptures here point to the Old Testament. Regarding the New Testament, Peter compared the writings of Paul to be of equal authority with Old Testament Scripture. Jesus, Himself had great reverence of the scriptures, quoting them and empathizing their importance.
God introduces Himself to Moses in Exodus at a burning bush which, while aflame, is not consumed by the fire. As Moses approaches a voice calls out for him to remove his scandals, for he is standing in the presence of God on holy ground. God introduces Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (the father of Israel). As the conversation progresses Moses learns that he is to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt into the Land which God had promised. When Moses asks who he can say sent him when he goes back to Egypt, he is told to tell them that “I am that I am” has sent him. I understand this to be a semantic idiom meaning “I shall be what I shall be.” Perhaps a better way to put this is “I shall be all that is necessary for the occasion that will arise.”
In the New Testament Jesus refers to Himself with this phrase over and over again throughout the gospels. Some examples include “I am the light of the world…,” I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” His divinity is further illustrated in John 8:58 where an emphasis similar to the Old Testament passage states “Truly, truly I say unto you, before Abraham was born, I am,” which means that Jesus existed before His human life on earth.
In the gospel of Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus invites us to “come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy, and by burden is light.”
May I close with this question? Whatever your situation may be, is this invitation meaningful to you?
By Robert Mason Outreach Pastor, Redeeming Grace Bible Church