BULLETIN FIFTY FIVE
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ISAIAH 66:3 AND THE UNDERSTANDING
OF THE WORD OF GOD
Psalm 119 is an acme of devotion to the word of God because it is the word of God.
Every one of Thy righteousness judgments, it declares, endure forever (119:160). A judgment may be that the Mosaic law will be superseded in some way by the coming MASTER PROPHET to be, as in Deuteronomy 18:18ff., so that God will put His own words in His mouth (Psalm 45) and these are then binding; but the translation of those commands from animal sacrifices (Isaiah 66:3) into the one sacrifice of this divine prophet is not a discard, but a fulfilment. The whole, whether pointed prelude, or culminating conclusion, lasts, and what fades away is merely yielding, when its time is done, to its encompassment as planned and predicted in the consummation phase.
Psalm 119 has an attitude of LONGING for the word of God, such as no appetite could exceed (Psalm 119:20) and uncloyed satisfaction when the seeker has found it (119:46-47). "I will speak of Thy testimonies also before kings,and not by ashamed. I will delight myself in your commandments." No jewels could compare in value.
This zestful zeal, this inordinate satisfaction, this gleeful delight, this solemn response from the depths of the student's heart to the majesty of the God who speaks and the wonder of having His so refined speech, is like having a finely attuned musical or literary ear, or vast skilll as a sportsman with some implement. It involves concentration, intense occupation, sensitivity as of a lover to his bride's words, acute valuation of what is said. It is never satiated. It is not leisurely. Above all, it does not fiddle, twiddle, like the Liberals of yesterday in their vacuous preoccupations with their own withering thoughts, making ludicrous claims that did not even match their target for example, see SMR. pp. 68ff..
Two components are noted in Isaiah 66:2, as ones to whom the Lord will look in a person. It is those of a poor and a contrite heart, and one who tremble at His word.
Thus as you seek to understand Him and His word (cf. Jeremiah 9:23), one need is the readiness to learn uninhibitedly, without braggadocio, impregnability of prior thoughts and so on, and the other is to take every part of His word with acute care, as should also be done in trying to interpret natural processes. Precision and care, with either of these realms of knowledge or susceptibility to knowledge, is essential. You cannot well expect to understand them if you are not keenly watchful and alert, as on the natural side, similarly, to such things as the precise implications of the systematic grandeur of DNA and its fundamental use of logic.
The word of God as the focus for study is not different in type; but it is diverse in field. When you are looking at the PERSONAL word of God, there is the additional danger of mistaking the author, or adding yourself with or without complicity, of carelessness, or of intent, of cultural confusion and inserts, as if they were automatic. So TREMBLING in this domain sums up the attitude. Awe, reverence, a clean heart rather than a clean pair of heels. Whether atural or supernatural be your field of application, you can't push your target to fit your rambling thoughts, and expect to conform to reality. And if not, why bother ? why not simply espouse some philosophy and be done with it! There are various possible answers to that question, but it is not necessary to itemise many of them here.
In terms of checking and seeing results, over the past quarter century of application in these fields, resulting in the library of 240 volumes now on the Web, with a specialty in Biblical Christian Apologetics, one has consistently found that IF you insist on taking His written word as it comes, without qualification, adulteration, insinuation, but with all due assessment modes and no slant for preference, as one who must learn from first to last, then problems in staggering clashes disappear.
While these have been noted in various places, not least in BAY OF RETRACTABLE ISLANDS, one can here mention baptism, millenium, place of latter day Israel in prophecy, eternal universe or one to pass away with fire, atonement, Romanism. Following the Bible without imposition or traditional additives or negatives, guesses and glamour, often results in a position at neither extreme, and this NOT because it is preferred, but perhaps for another reason. People who want things some way or other, often perhaps not consciously, have the danger of taking the things that move their way, without due examination of the other side. Culture may clutch them, or desire fire. Thus the zestful zeal of Psalm 119 about the way to examine oneself and treat the written word of God is not excessive, any more than is careful house-keeping. There is no use pretending it is not needed, or fearing it cannot be done (I John 1, Psalm 139:23).
The more moderate middle is however by no means a statistical simplistic matter. There are the characterising elements too, which make it more than measurement, just rather inclined to avoid rampant rushes, while interpreting with a mind not at bay but at ease in this regard. It seeks to follow, not lead, in the work on the word of God. It is when following Him that one sees things happen, with power, and all His word agree in a majestic harmony which is refreshing, enlightening and awesome.