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Character in the Word

10 Dec 2017


Character in the Word banner.jpgOne of the most exceptional elements of the Word of God is it’s capacity to be ‘alive’. The Word of God is called “living and active” in Hebrews 4. It has carried the staying power in the Christian tradition of revealing knowledge from (or of) God. Scripture has long been known as a ‘timeless’ literary work, an undying classic. Along with the rich poetic language, well-crafted metaphors, lavishly described scenes and the lore of Israelite kings, the Judeo-Christian scriptures have a historical tale that can be told of it’s own journey through the annals of history. Many have remarked that it is the most well-preserved volume in human history. All of this makes for an exemplary introduction to a unified collection of books we call the Biblical cannon. But it isn’t what Christians (or even Jews in ages past) have known to be the richest attribute of Scripture. After all, many individuals surface in the numerous ‘micro-narratives’ of the Bible, but only one is found through: The Lord.

Though this may seem glaringly obvious, God is the main protagonist in the overarching story of the Bible. Truth be told, the ‘big picture story’ isn’t immediately evident from the reading of the initial glance through the books contained within. It is rather a story found ‘between and behind’ the books. Many have said that God speaks through His word, and yet ironically, a book among the sixty-six exists that entirely omits His name. In order to demystify this, the book in question is understood as a representation of The Lord’s character. It suggests a level of maturity that His adopted children have acquired having been in His presence. It is profound to discover, while reading beyond the words of scripture, the character of God resonates into the heart and mind of the reader. In places, The Lord is depicted as a individual of intrepidation, of redemption, intimacy, and justice. The words (now in our modern 21-century languages) fail to communicate the subjective and imaginative depth they would have in their original languages. More than just a grammatical separation is suspected though. Historians understand there is a quite nearly a chasm of difference between our modern world today, and that of the ancients.

In the days of the Patriarchs, Prophets, and even the Sanhedrin, the accepted culture of the day assumed theism. Deities were revered as belonging to the realm(s) beyond our human understanding – they were thus worshiped and appeased for prosperity, and to avoid disaster. The “God of Israel”, as He was often known, took a distinctly different approach to communicating His terms of interacting amongst the human race: covenants. It is this that is understood by some to be the cherished and ‘best-kept secret’ in the Kingdom of God as described by the prophets, and even God Himself. While other deities were capable of excessively emotional reactions, leaving conscientious individuals to obsess with pleasing the god(s), the “God of Israel” clearly laid out instructions for those who He held most accountable. While rules appear to be closer to a tyrannical measure than the move of a benevolent father and king,  it turns out clearly-defined rules were what set-apart the nation of The Lord’s choosing. Divine rules and instructions laid the social, ceremonial, and spiritual foundation for the world’s old surviving nation.

In the Bible, what is observed is words. It is said that words are defined by the company they keep. By this precedent, the message received from The Bible is only as good as it’s translator’s attempts at preservation from Semetic and Hellenistic tradition into our modern comprehension. What is (if not careful) ‘lost in translation’, is the message behind and between the words of the cherished historical cannon. What is held within the book of enduring significance that could not also be stored  in human hearts (as a deity could be called an intimate father)? When Christians (and those of the Messianic tradition) reflect on the Word of God, what is understood is that it is both the message of the character of an individual, and the individual Himself (John 1:1). The Word of God is a guide that facilitates genuine discipleship, and ought to be found both in the pages of literary publications, and human hearts. However, before the words were ever written down through the human conduits chosen for the task, they were present in the heart of God.

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